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Three day care students under observation in TB scare

Posted June 3, 2009

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— A substitute teacher at a Fayetteville day care has tested positive for tuberculosis, and three children are under observation to determine if they have contracted the contagious respiratory disease, public health officials said Wednesday.

Skin tests and chest X-rays were administered Friday to at least 140 children and staff members at Highland Learning Center to determine if they had been exposed to TB.

Highland Learning Center, site of TB scare/tuberculosis Day care teacher contracts tuberculosis

Officials said Tuesday that all skin test results were negative, but several people went to Cape Fear Valley Hospital after abnormalities were noticed on their X-rays, officials said. Three children are undergoing three days of extensive testing, officials said, while other patients were checked out and sent home.

"The three children have shown general symptoms that could be a wide variety of potential illness," hospital spokesman Clinton Weaver said.

The children were placed in negative-pressure rooms to reduce the possible spread of infection, and they are undergoing a procedure called gastric washing in which a tube is placed in the stomach daily for three days.

Although none of the children or staff members has displayed any symptoms of TB, Cumberland County Health Director Dr. Lan Tran-Phu said officials aren't taking any chances.

Medication has been prescribed for every child at the center as a precaution, and a nurse will administer the medicine over the next eight weeks. Parents can opt out of the treatment schedule.

Officials will test the children and staff members again in eight weeks.

"Since we are dealing with very young children and since their immune systems are still very vulnerable, we are taking all precautions possible," Tran-Phu said.

Parents also have been asked to look for TB symptoms, including prolonged coughing, fever, weight loss and fatigue.

TB is an airborne respiratory disease that is transmitted when an infected person speaks, coughs or sneezes. Exposure doesn't guarantee infection. A person can contract TB and be symptom-free. These cases, called inactive, are not contagious, but inactive TB can become active at a later date.

The most common treatment for the disease is a course of antibiotics.

The county health department also is trying to determine how the teacher contracted the disease.

The teacher, whose name hasn't been released, began work at the day care center in September and tested negative for TB as part of pre-employment screening, said Amy Williams, assistant director of the center, which is affiliated with Highland Presbyterian Church.

In May, the teacher appeared to have a cold or allergies, Williams said. The teacher's last day at the center was May 19, she said.

No parents have withdrawn their children from the center, Williams said, adding that administrators are trying to keep operations as normal as possible.

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  • Jenn Teach 86 Jun 3, 2009

    Wow, now being a teacher is becoming a dangerous job!

  • oldreb1965 Jun 3, 2009

    "Why would you presume she's from any particular country? That is ridiculous. My stepdad, who is from... wait for it... AMERICA, tested positive for TB once and had to do the regimen of drugs. This person could have picked it up from anywhere, and obviously AFTER she began working for the daycare. You people should get over your stereotypes"

    Because the CDC has said that there is a an alarming rate of TB cases coming across the southern border.

    It's not stereotyping when you are basing an opinion on facts thank you.

  • Been there once Jun 3, 2009

    Amyrm....That's why now you can be exposed to it anywhere. IT IS on the rise again. Healthy people need not worry. It's those who have a health problem who usually catch it. I had a patient in 1972 who a few days later they found and TB. Guess What. At 21 yrs of age I now had a positive skin test. Never TB even to this day when I am quite a bit older. It's scarie, but harmless if your healthy.

  • Here kitty kitty Jun 3, 2009

    I was wondering what country as well. But then I'm also wondering OK they don't have it, then the sub does, now 3 kids have it. So let's get it together...do they or don't they??????

  • kittiboo Jun 3, 2009

    Why would you presume she's from any particular country? That is ridiculous. My stepdad, who is from... wait for it... AMERICA, tested positive for TB once and had to do the regimen of drugs. This person could have picked it up from anywhere, and obviously AFTER she began working for the daycare. You people should get over your stereotypes.

  • oldreb1965 Jun 3, 2009

    "I wonder what country she is from."

    I was wondering the same thing.
    I have a feeling about where she is from but I'll keep it to my self. LOL

  • amyrn Jun 3, 2009

    I posted before WRAL made the addition to the story regarding the daycare teacher was previously tested.
    Glad to know precautions were taken. Most of the more recent TB cases I have seen involved immigrants who refused to take the medications and had to be placed in a secured area for treatment by our legal system.

  • Been there once Jun 3, 2009

    She had a skin test in Sept. before she was hired. It was negative. She is not required to have another until Sept. (once a year) She only get a Chest x-ray if she has a positive test and that too is once a year. 3 children had neg. skin test, but their chest x-rays looked odd. This is not something new for a child's chest since they often cannot take a deep breath and hold it. The next x-ray will probably be normal. You can get TB from people in an elevator or on the street. Drug users are at risk of TB. TB is on the rise again.

  • amyrn Jun 3, 2009

    Hmmm, I, too, cannot figure out how this person was allowed to work at a daycare. This person should have been screened prior to hire. However, maybe this is a new case of TB for this person. Maybe, this person was only recently exposed.

  • Commentor5 Jun 3, 2009

    commonsensical: "WRAL doesn't say whether the individual tested positive via a routine skin test..."

    Uh you need to read it again chief....here is the excerpt from Original story: http://www.wral.com/news/news_briefs/story/5260689/

    "Fayetteville, N.C. — Tuberculosis tests given to children and staff at a Fayetteville day care have returned negative results, officials said Tuesday.

    Skin tests were administered Friday to at least 140 children and staff members at Highland Learning Center to determine if they had been exposed to TB. "

    WRAL did IN FACT say no body tested positive via a skin test. Where is the accurate reporting?

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