A University High School student has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, but school and health district officials do not believe there is a high risk of others contracting the contagious disease.
The Waco Independent School District sent a letter to parents Thursday stating the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District had confirmed the student was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
“The Health District and the Department of State Health Services Regional TB Program believe the possibility that tuberculosis has been transmitted to a student or staff member at University High School is minimal,” according to the letter.
A preliminary test last week confirmed the student had been exposed to the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, health district spokeswoman Kelly Craine said. Additional examination over the next few days showed the student had the tuberculosis disease, Craine said.
Waco ISD cleaned and disinfected “district facilities where any exposure might have occurred” last week, according to the letter to parents. The school district and the health district have been working with University High School to identify anyone else who may have been exposed.
Students and staff members who believe they may have been exposed to the patient will receive free tuberculosis testing from the health district.
“Those people requiring screening will receive a letter from the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District with further instructions,” according to Waco ISD’s letter.
Anyone with questions can contact the health district’s tuberculosis prevention staff at 750-5496.
Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that are spread through the air when people with tuberculosis cough, speak or sing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People may breathe in these bacteria and become infected, but not everyone who breathes in the bacteria will develop tuberculosis disease. When someone breathes in the bacteria, it can settle in the lungs and grow, moving through the blood to other parts of the body.
Tuberculosis is not spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drinks, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes or kissing, according to the CDC. People with tuberculosis disease are more likely to spread it to family members, friends, coworkers, classmates and others they spend time with every day.
There is a tuberculosis vaccine often given to children in countries where the disease is common, but it is not commonly used or recommended in the United States because it is not very effective in adults, according to the CDC. Several vaccines are in the development and testing phases, according to the agency.