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Health Department Confirms Tuberculosis Case At A San Antonio High School

Scanning electron microscope image of mycobacterium tuberculosis, responsible for tuberculosis. | Sanofi Pasteur | http://bit.ly/2sJDQdn

San Antonio Metro Health has confirmed someone at John Jay High School has tested positive for tuberculosis. The school sent a warning letter home with students on Wednesday letting them know about the illness and reassuring them that the infected person was no longer on campus. The individual is being treated and is in stable condition.

Texas Biomedical Research Institute President and CEO Dr. Larry Schlesinger has researched tuberculosis for decades, and said it is an airborne disease which can be spread by coughing, but is nowhere near as contagious as measles or the flu. 
"Typically, it's (spread to) individuals who've been exposed for a more extended amount of time in an intimate setting," he said. "So this would be a household contact who, for example, spends a few hours each day together with the so-called index case of active tuberculosis."
Schlesinger added that most people who are infected with tuberculosis remain healthy and will never know they have been infected unless they get tested for the presence of the bacteria. Metro Health is working to identify students and staff who might have been exposed so they can screen them for infection. 

"It is important that people know tuberculosis is in our community, and it's important for clinicians who see patients with pnuemonia to suspect it," Shlesinger said.
Bonnie Petrie can be reached at Bonnie@TPR.org and on Twitter at @kbonniepetrie.