Oklahoma County Student Diagnosed With Active Tuberculosis

Tuesday, October 1st 2019, 12:42 pm
By: LeighAnne Manwarren, Storme Jones

An Oklahoma County student has been diagnosed with an active case of tuberculosis, the OKC-County Health Department reported Tuesday.

The student attends a Western Heights school in Oklahoma County and the OKC-County Health Department is investigating. 

"This was into a certain area of the school where not very many folks were possibly exposed, if they were even exposed at all," said Superintendent Mannix Barnes. 

The school became aware of the student's symptoms last week and reported it to the health department, said Dr. Dale Claflin, tuberculosis medical director at the OKC-County Health Department. He said the student likely contracted the disease from a family member. 

The county health department has since started testing people who may have been exposed to the disease.

Claflin said the student is being treated at home to protect classmates from additional exposure. 

"The disease is minimal in the particular individual. The drugs will probably be having a significant effect within a week or ten days or two weeks," said Claflin, leading to a full recovery. 

According to the CDC, tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attacks the lungs, but the TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine and brain. 

Symptoms of TB in the lungs include a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, a pain in the chest and coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs). Other symptoms include weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever and sweating at night, the CDC reports. 

The student is coughing but has not produced sputum with TB bacteria, Claflin said.

The disease is minimal and the student is expected to recover in two weeks with medication, Claflin said.

A person might be exposed to the TB bacteria if you spent time near someone with TB. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. A person can not get TB from clothing, drinking glass, eating utensils, handshake, toilet or other surfaces, according to the CDC.

Only people with active TB disease can spread TB bacteria to others. 

Anyone with any questions is asked to call the OKC-County Health Department at 405-419-4000. The school district also set up a hotline at 405-261-6720, for parents who may be concerned about their child's health. 


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