Students and faculty at Wilson Central High School were possibly exposed to tuberculosis after an individual at the school tested positive for active TB.
In a letter sent out to parents Jan. 22, Principal Travis Mayfield said the school district is working with experts to determine next steps and to ensure students and staff are properly tested for TB and treated with antibiotics if necessary.
“It’s important to note that, while TB can be contagious, it is primarily spread to individuals who have close personal contact with an infected patient on a regular basis,” Mayfield wrote in the letter.
The person diagnosed with active TB was not identified in the letter sent out to parents.
The letter also states that a group of approximately 450 students and staff at the school will need to be tested by the state health department this week. Separate letters were sent out to those who were identified in the group about the need for testing. Students who did not receive the additional notification were told they did not need to be tested.
A community meeting was held Jan. 23 at Wilson Central with state health department officials and the school district sharing additional information and responding to concerns.
Mayfield also said that air filters in all affected classrooms were changed and all school buses that service Wilson Central were sanitized.
According to Wilson County Schools spokesperson Jennifer Johnson, the school began the sterilization process Jan. 21, with areas being thoroughly cleaned with bleach in areas the individual had been. She said it’s important to note that TB does not live on surfaces, but the sterilization was done in an abundance of caution.
Johnson said the district acted as quickly as possible to accommodate health experts as soon as they learned of the situation.
She also said that though TB used to claim thousands of lives in centuries past, both active and latent TB now can be easily treated with antibiotics.
Imelda Villarosa, communicable disease medical director with Mid-Cumberland Regional Office of the Tennessee Department of Health, sent a notice to affected students about what the testing will involve.
In the letter, Villarosa said affected students and faculty will receive a blood test and get the results in approximately one week. If the blood test is positive, they will be called. If their test comes back positive, they may require treatment to prevent active TB disease. If the test is negative, they will receive a letter. Those with negative results will need to be tested again in 8-10 weeks from the last exposure date, according to the letter.
Villarosa also said that there will be no out-of-pocket cost for screening, testing, and treatment at the health department.