100 Need TB Testing After Exposure by School Worker

Health officials are notifying people who had contact with a Pinellas County school worker with an active case of TB.

Update, July 28: The patient , according to the Tampa Bay Times.



A Pinellas County school worker with an active case of tuberculosis may have exposed about 100 people to the disease, health officials confirmed Friday afternoon.

Those identified people were sent letters today from the Pinellas County Health Department notifying them that they must get tested for TB, officials said at a press conference at the Pinellas County Health Department in St. Petersburg.

The most recent exposure took place in late June, though the worker with TB had contact with the same individuals for six months prior to that, health officials said.

Dr. Claude Dharamraj, director of the Pinellas County Health Department, emphasized that there is no TB outbreak or reason for alarm.

“We are just investigating one case, in one school,” Dharamraj said. There is “no outbreak and no panic.”

The health department also is offering free TB testing to any Pinellas County school student or staff member, regardless of whether he or she was exposed to the virus. (See TB test locations below.)

with the active TB case will not be identified to protect patient confidentiality.

The employee's school and the city where it is located also will not be named.

The Health Department will only release the school’s name to the media, if it has trouble reaching people who came into frequent contact with this worker.

Once a person has an active case of TB, Dharamraj said the airborne disease needs a lot of contact and time to spread. It would take several hours over the course of several days and weeks to contract it.

Of those diagnosed with TB germs, around 25 percent test positive for TB, according to Pat Ryder, an assistant director at the Health Department. Active TB is very rare. A positive test may mean you've been exposed, not that you have active TB, according to the Health Department.

Since the letters went out today, no one knows how many people who were exposed may test positive for the disease.

The fact that letters were sent out and media notified mean TB has spread to individuals close to the original person. Dharamraj said relatives and family members are the first tested when an individual is diagnosed. If one of the family members tests positive, then co-workers and friends are notified.

In recent years the number of cases across the U.S., Florida and Pinellas County have fallen sharply. In 2010, 33 cases were reported in Pinellas, 26 in 2011 and only 10 so far this year. TB cases, Dharamraj said, are very treatable with medicine.

She added that there is nothing to suspect that this case of TB is related to other TB cases in the news, such as the TB outbreak in Jacksonville or a case reported this week at MacDill Air Force Bae.

Symptoms of TB may include feeling weak, unexpected weight loss, fever and/or night sweats. Symptoms of TB in the lungs may also included prolonged coughing, chest pain and/or coughing up blood.

The Health Department said it usually takes two to 10 weeks after exposure to a person with TB disease for the skin test to react positively.

The Pinellas County Health Department will provide TB testing at no charge to students and staff starting on Monday, July 30.

Testing Locations

  • St. Petersburg Center, 205 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, 824-6900
  • Pinellas Park Center, 6350 76th Ave. N. 547-7780
  • Mid County Office, 8751 Ulmerton Rd.  524-4410
  • Largo Center, 12420 130th Ave. N. 588-4040
  • Tarpon Springs Center, 301 South Disston Ave. 942-5457
Forest July 28, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I call b.s. on not naming this person. Who are we trying to fool? The person potentially infected hundreds of people, at least exposed the thing to any number of people. Cashiers, clerks, dentists etc., BS!
Jason Bartolone July 28, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Update: The patient is an employee of Mavericks High Charter School in Largo, according to the Tampa Bay Times.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »