The Georgia Department of Public Health notified the Floyd County Schools district Wednesday afternoon of an active case of tuberculosis diagnosed at Model Elementary and Johnson Elementary Schools.
A spokesman for the Northwest Georgia Department of Public Health, said only one case of TB has been diagnosed and that individual had been at the two schools.
Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the GDPH did not alert the system to whether or not this case was student or faculty, Superintendent Jeff Wilson said.
“We will test anyone who thinks they may have it,” he said. “We don’t want to over or under play it.”
Letters from DPH will be going home to all MES and JES families with more details and plans of action today.
Vanity Romano, a parent of a Model Elementary School student, said she received one of the two letters the school sent out. The letter alerted her to the fact her child may have been in contact with the individual who was diagnosed with TB, she said. The letter also told her the system would be testing students for TB next Tuesday due to the fact the results take 48-72 hours to come in.
Romano said she is concerned this is not soon enough. “My concern is exposure, because it can spread,” she said. “If there is any risk of my daughter or anyone to be exposed to a disease, the earlier the diagnosis the better.”
Romano said she tried going to her daughter’s primary care doctor but they told her they do not conduct those tests there. She received similar responses from urgent care and the emergency room. Romano said she called the health department and was told because there is already a scheduled TB test for Floyd County students on Tuesday they would not test her daughter this week.
“I’m just trying to do what is best for everyone,” she said, adding that she will be keeping her daughter home until the test to prevent possible exposure to her daughter and others.
The Centers for Disease Control says it may take two to 12 weeks to begin showing symptoms for TB. The tests administered to students on Tuesday will only show if a student has been infected with the bacteria and not necessarily if the student has a latent TB infection.
While this may be a cause of concern, a press release from the school district stated, the risk of becoming infected with TB is low.
A statement from Dr. Unini Odama, health director for the DPH Northwest Health District, said the case is being treated at home and there is no present danger.
“We are working with FCS officials to identify and test individuals at risk of exposure to TB based on guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We are confident that actions by school officials and Floyd Medical Center are guarding the health of the students, staff and public. The confirmed TB case is being treated at home and do not present a danger to others,” Odama said in a statement.
According to the CDC, TB is a disease caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys or the spine.
The general symptoms of TB disease include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. The symptoms of TB disease of the lungs also include coughing, chest pain and the coughing up of blood.
TB germs are put into the air when a person with TB diseaseof the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. These germs can stay in the air for several hours, depending on the environment. Persons who breathe in the air containing these TB germs can become infected; this is called latent TB infection.