Health Team

Fayetteville day care testing children for TB

Posted May 29, 2009 2:16 p.m. EDT
Updated May 29, 2009 6:51 p.m. EDT

— Nurses were on hand Friday at Highland Learning Center in Fayetteville to test children for possible exposure to tuberculosis.

The center sent a letter to parents Wednesday warning that children may have been exposed to TB by a teacher who worked there.

The teacher, who has not been named, was a substitute who filled-in in various classrooms, a parent told WRAL News.

The letter to parents was designed to limit panic. “This is not life-threatening nor an emergency,” it said. It added that the teacher had a suspected case of TB, but has not tested positive for the illness.

As a precaution, the center was testing all children for exposure, a process that includes a skin-prick test and chest X-ray.

Patricia Bradley said her daughter, Corey Addison, was one of about 100 children at the Highland Learning Center who might have been exposed.

"It's disconcerting," she said. "Nobody wants to go through an experience like this, but I think the daycare is handling it very well."

On Monday, students will have their skin test interpreted for evidence of exposure.

Every child is being prescribed 16 doses of medication, which will be administered at the center by a nurse over the next eight weeks.

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

The most common treatment is a course of antibiotics.

Historically, TB was a widespread and deadly disease, but better diagnosis, treatment and prevention have significantly reduced cases. Over the past 30 years, it has been on the decline nationally and in North Carolina. Only 345 cases were reported to the state Department of Health and Human Services in 2007.