Students at three Lafayette Parish schools were tested over the past two days for tuberculosis (TB). Around 200 hand-selected students at Lafayette high school, Alice Boucher and Truman Montessori had either a skin or blood test to determine if they were exposed to the bacteria. This all began after the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) started an investigation last week into a possible case of TB at Lafayette High.
Dr.Tina Stefanski says these test are only to see if a person is exposed to the bacteria but does not mean they have it. That will later be determined from a separate test. If they do test positive for exposure and it is determined they do not have active TB then he or she will be put on medications for months so they never get TB.
Test results should be in by the end of this week or early next week. All students tested will be re-tested in February as a precaution. If you have any questions or concerns you are urged to call DHH.
TB Testing at LHS
Monday, Department of Health and Hospital Officials began testing those people who have come into contact with a Lafayette High student suspected to be infected with tuberculosis. The Office of Public Health was notified by a doctor about the possible TB case at LHS last Tuesday.
TB screening tests will continue to be administered Tuesday. DHH says these tests will not disrupt the school day, and will be offered on campus for their convenience.
Possible Tuberculosis Update
Two more Lafayette Parish Schools are being investigated by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals' Office of Public Health for possible cases of tuberculosis.
Students at Alice Boucher Elementary and Truman Montessori may have been exposed. The students are believed to be related to ongoing investigation of the possible case of TB at Lafayette High School.
About 200 students will be tested on Monday and Tuesday. Lafayette High, Alice Boucher Elementary, and Truman Montessori will continue to follow a normal school schedule.
Possible Tuberculosis Update
We continue our coverage of a possible tuberculosis case at Lafayette High School.
Tuesday, the Department of Health and Hospitals confirmed they are investigating and testing a person suspected to be carrying the infection. And Wednesday, the school and health officials are narrowing down who may be at risk.
The phones were ringing off the hook Wednesday at both Lafayette High and the Office of Public Health. Among the many questions, people are concerned about who is at risk and the timeline of events.
Parents and students at Lafayette High were alerted Wednesday of the possible tuberculosis infection, urging them to be on the lookout for letters requiring a TB test. Out of the nearly 2,500 students, Dr. Tina Stefanski, Acadiana's regional director of DHH, said they're working on identifying those who may have been exposed.
"At this time, we've identified about 200 people, faculty, staff, and students who need to be tested," said Stefanski. "And that number may grow as we continue our investigation."
And for those who do receive letters, a blood test will be conducted at the school Monday and Tuesday. It will test solely for exposure to the TB bacteria and will not be a cultured test, which takes weeks for results.
Stefanski said they're basing their testing off the circumstances surrounding the suspected person of infection.
"We look at time frames and exposures," said Stefanski. "There's actually an optimal time to get tested and that's next week."
After the exposure test is done, it will take a few days to get the results. 17 people in Acadiana tested positive for TB last year. But Stefanksi said not to worry, the bacteria is not easily spread like the flu.
"(It's) close, prolonged, repeated contact, so it's not something that's spread easily," said Stefanski. "It's spread through close, prolonged—a couple hours, repeated contact with someone who is spreading the tubercule bacilla in the air."
Because of health care laws, officials cannot release information on the suspected person of infection.
Possible Tuberculosis Case at LHS
In a school with 2500 students, health officials are taking every precaution and wasting no time to investigate a possible tuberculosis infection at Lafayette High School.
The Department of Health and Hospitals is currently investigating and testing the person suspected to be infected, along with those who come into close contact with them.
The biggest message health officials want to send to parents of students, as well as the faculty and staff of the school, is to not panic.
But now the wait starts, because it could be weeks before we find out if there is a TB outbreak.
It might be more common than you think.
"We had 17 cases of tuberculosis in Acadiana for 2011," says Dr. Tina Stefanski.
Stefanski is the Regional Director for the Department of Health and Hospitals for Acadiana. She says it's standard for her office to investigate any report of a patient showing symptoms of tuberculosis.
"A bad cough that may last for three weeks or longer. They may be coughing up blood, night sweats, fever, chills, weakness, severe chest pains," explains Stefanski.
Stefanski says they were notified Tuesday about the possible infection at Lafayette High, but would not confirm if it's a student or a member of the faculty or staff.
"Symptoms can take weeks, months, even years to develop in a person, so that's why we're trying to test people early. There's actually medicine we can give to contacts." says Stefanski
Apart of their investigation also consists of rounding up people who come into close, prolonged contact with the suspected infected person.
"We'll get those people tested quickly and again take the methodical approach anytime we do have a TB case," says Stefanski.
In a perfect world health officials would be able to deliver the news quicker, but unfortunately getting definitive results could take weeks.
Stefanski says, "we're definitely taking this seriously as we do all cases of TB and contact investigations, and we'll get this done as quickly and efficiently as possible."
Lafayette parish school officials did not return our calls Tuesday, as far as if there would be any changes for Wednesday classes.
But Stefanski said students and those who work at the school would be safe to return tomorrow.