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Health Department monitoring Gig Harbor High School student with TB

April 14, 2017

Limited group of potentially affected students and staff to be tested April 25

It is not easy to catch TB. Those who spend many hours with a person with active TB are most at risk.

TACOMA, Wash. – Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is monitoring a Gig Harbor High School student who has recently been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) disease in the lungs. The student did not contract the disease at school, is not currently attending classes and will not return to school until there is no public health concern.

Although the infection risk to students and staff is low, as a precaution, the Health Department has recommended a TB screening test to 10 Gig Harbor High School students and six staff members.

In partnership with the Health Department, Peninsula School District has already notified those who should receive the free screening. Health Department nurses will provide the screening April 25 only to those notified. Others who wish to be tested should contact their health care provider.

The Health Department is working closely with the Peninsula School District administration to ensure all those with exposure risk receive TB testing, and if necessary, treatment.

What is TB?
Bacteria causes TB, and antibiotics cure it. The two stages of TB are infection and disease. A person who has latent TB infection is not sick and can’t infect other people. People with latent TB infection can develop active TB.

How TB spreads
A person with lung TB can spread the disease when he or she:

  • Coughs or sneezes.
  • Shouts, laughs or sings.

It doesn’t spread by sharing clothing, sharing eating utensils, kissing or hugging, or sexual activity. It doesn't spread in outdoor environments, where sunlight kills the bacteria.

Who is most at risk?
It is not easy to catch TB. People most at risk of becoming infected are those who spend many hours with someone who is contagious with TB. For more information about TB, visit www.tpchd.org/TB. You may also call (253) 798-6410.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. We are one of only 163 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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