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Tests Show No Further TB Exposure at Gig Harbor High School

May 19, 2017

Limited group of potentially affected students and staff tested negative for the disease

Testing done in abundance of caution after student diagnosed with TB in the lungs.

TACOMA, Wash. –A small group of Gig Harbor High School students and staff possibly exposed to tuberculosis (TB) tested negative for the disease.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recommended the TB screening tests as a precaution because a student was diagnosed with TB disease in the lungs. That student did not contract the disease at school.

Even though the infection risk was low, the Health Department tested eight students and seven staff members out of an abundance of caution in late April. According to the test results, none showed any signs of the virus.

“TB does not spread easily and requires long periods of time with a contagious person in an enclosed space for transmission,” said Nigel Turner, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Communicable Disease division director. “Public health is essential to respond to reports of diseases like TB and protect the greater community from them,” Turner said.

After the student with TB was diagnosed in April, the student received treatment and stayed out of school while still infectious. The Health Department worked with the Peninsula School District to notify everyone at the high school with a potential exposure risk.

What is TB?
Bacteria cause 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. Learn more about TB at www.tpchd.org/TB.

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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