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Cary High students exposed to tuberculosis

Posted January 3, 2011

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— A student at Cary High School tested positive for tuberculosis, a highly contagious and sometimes deadly bacterial infection, in November.

The school sent out letters to students and parents Monday, urging anyone who may have been exposed to get tested.

Senior Aaron Caldwell shared a class with the infected student, whose name was not released.

"I'm concerned, but they said just because you're getting this letter, you don't 100 percent have it," he said.

Health officials said because the possible exposure was so recent, the disease would not be full-blown and active. That's why students who were possibly exposed are being allowed to stay in school.

"I think their risk is very minimal and I think that they should not be worried," said Sue Lynn Ledford of the Wake County Health Department.

Cary High students urged to get TB tests Cary High students urged to get TB tests

Tuberculosis is an airborne disease that primarily affects the lungs, but it can spread to other organs. It is transmitted when an infected person coughs, talks or sneezes in close proximity to someone else, but it requires several hours of contact to be transmitted from one person to another.

"The airborne droplets are what they project into the air and you breathe them in," Ledford said.

The school planned to provide testing on Friday to look for early signs of exposure, called latent tuberculosis, which isn't contagious.

"If they tested positive with their skin test, then we would encourage them to have a chest X-ray. That would just be to determine if there was any active TB going on," Ledford said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three people in the world has latent tuberculosis, but their immune systems are able to keep it at bay.


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  • ashewing Jan 4, 2011

    Oh, "hosts" of the disease - gotcha. Unfortunate but yes you are correct. Since the 80's an increasing number of cases are undocumented residents.

  • davidbh61255 Jan 4, 2011

    ashewing-- I have noticed that the hosts of this disease are also undocumented and it started in the late 80's in My hometown ,some of who were co-workers but not fellow countrymen.PS - I typed this really slow!!

  • ashewing Jan 4, 2011

    One would think so, but if left untreated they usually become so sick they end up showing for care somewhere. They may initially be diagnosed with pneumonia or bronchitis, but eventually they are correctly diagnosed.

    There really aren't many undocumented cases of TB, or there would be more deaths as a result. There were less than 5 dead at diagnosis in NC in 2009.

  • davidbh61255 Jan 4, 2011

    Yes this disease is also undocumented, and NOT illegal!!

  • ashewing Jan 4, 2011

    In 2009 there were only 250 cases statewide. You can view the view report and see cases per county here: http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/gcdc/tb/ratebycounty.html

    In the US there 11,545 cases in 2009. 2010 numbers are not yet available.

  • tracie21142 Jan 4, 2011

    I work at a local hospital and you would be surprised at how many people have TB in our area

  • cad Jan 4, 2011


    You are right on!

  • ashewing Jan 4, 2011

    "I thought a TB vaccine was standard issue for public school children through the required vaccinations."

    There is no available vaccine for TB - that has been found effective for life-long protection from the disease. In high incidence countries, however, BCG is a vaccine commonly used for children only. This vaccine is known to "reduce" their risk of developing TB at a young age. It does not provide life-long protection.

  • ashewing Jan 4, 2011

    Tuberculosis has never been largely eradicated, only a decrease in infection due to the discovery of medication in the 1940's. Prior to that, there was a huge death rate as there was no effective treatment available.

    There is no vaccination available for TB, only treatment. TB is a treatable and curable disease with appropriate treatment. It is not highly infectious. You must have direct and prolonged contact with someone who has active TB disease.

  • RB-1 Jan 4, 2011


    Praying for them all, and for their families.

    "TB was largely eradicated in the US due to vaccinations. Expect this and other diseases to increase dramatically with the open door policy on the southern US border."


    Those people come in with no physicals, no medical certificates, no shots.