Local News

Cumberland County H.S. Student Diagnosed With Tuberculosis

Posted March 5, 2002

— Hundreds of students at a Cumberland County high school will be tested for tuberculosis Wednesday after a classmate was diagnosed with the bacterial infection.

Tuesday, students at Pine Forest High School learned more about what they will experience. The principal and a school nurse visited classrooms to explain why the tests are needed and answer the student's questions.

Letters are also being sent home to parents telling them about the diagnosis and testing.

Cumberland County Health Director Janet Lindbloom said that a 14-year-old female freshman was diagnosed with "probable active pulmonary tuberculosis" over the weekend by her private doctor. The teenager is currently being treated at UNC Hospitals.

Tuberculosis

is a chronic bacterial infection that attacks the lungs. Although health officials said that it is much less contagious than the flu or cold, the disease can spread from person to person in the air.

The health department is compiling a list of the student's close contacts -- her family and those who have shared a school bus or classroom with her on a daily basis.

Although the risk is small, as many as 450 students could have been exposed. On Wednesday, those students will be given free PPD skin tests to check for infection.

"At this point, there is no immediate danger to any student. We just want to get the word out to parents that this is what we'd normally do in any typical exposure to TB," Lindbloom said.

Signs and symptoms of tuberculosis include a prolonged cough lasting more than two weeks, weight loss, chills and night sweats.

Initial test results are expected by late Friday.

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