Testing finds no tuberculosis at A.R. Johnson

 

No tuberculosis cases have been identified at A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School in the first two weeks of testing, according to the Richmond County Health Department.

Department spokesman Emmitt L. Walker said 240 students and faculty members have been tested for the disease since Oct. 11, when a student there tested positive for the bacteria during routine TB testing required for clinical work study.

The case made A.R. Johnson the third school in less than a year to undergo campuswide testing for tuberculosis. In September, at least 11 people at Glenn Hills High School tested positive for TB bacteria out of the 119 students and faculty members initially tested after a student showed signs of the disease to a doctor.

In October 2012, 578 people at Butler High School were tested for TB after a student also showed signs of the disease. Of those, 136 tested positive for the bacteria, and three later were confirmed to have the disease.

Walker said testing at A.R. Johnson will be completed by Friday.

Tuberculosis primarily attacks the lungs and is spread through coughing, sneezing and breathing.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health’s media relations manager, Nancy Nydam, tuberculosis is not a common illness in Georgia. The TB rate is around three cases per 100,000 persons, with more than half of the confirmed cases reported in the Atlanta area.

Between 2007 and 2010, the most recent period for which data are available, there were 20 confirmed TB cases in Richmond County, five in Columbia County and 919 in the state, according to the Department of Health database.

The vast majority of people who contract TB bacteria do not develop the disease, which causes illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In most cases, the body fights off the bacteria or else it remains dormant for a number of years.

Students were being tested with standard skin tests, which injects a liquid under the skin and must be checked within 48 hours for raised bumps. In confirmed cases, a chest X-ray is required to detect the disease.

 

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