Philadelphia student has TB

March 20, 2009 8:29:16 PM PDT
The students and staff at Northeast Philadelphia High School are dealing with a health concern.

A student at the high school has been diagnosed with an active case of tuberculosis, a bacterial infection that usually attacks the lungs.

A letter went out to parents Thursday, and information sessions were held at the high school on Cottman Avenue Friday night, and on Monday morning from 7-9 AM. School district officials and experts from the health department say this is no cause for alarm, but they do want to make sure parents and students get their questions answered.

Emperor Tach, a senior, told Action News, "Everyone's talking about it- in the libraries, lunchrooms, in the hallways."

Word spread quickly today at Northeast High School that a student is infected with active tuberculosis. It's a contagious disease that usually attacks the lungs.

Parents were understandably concerned after being briefed by health officials during a meeting late Friday at Northeast High School.

"I heard tuberculosis, it's dangerous," said Kellie Malcolm, a parent.

Parents are welcome to attend another briefing about TB from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning at Northeast High School.

If it's not treated, TB can be deadly.

But it does not spread easily.

The bacteria is spread through the air, by coughing or sneezing. Most of the time, people have to be in close contact with an infected person over a long period of time.

Still, the health department has identified and notified nearly 90 students and teachers who may have been exposed.

They may be tested at the school on Wednesday.

Tracey Williams, of the Philadelphia School Health Services, told Action News, "We're just taking precautions, we want our kids to be safe, we want our school community to be safe."

"Parents can come, we'll have school district officials available to answer questions, we'll have officials from the health department's tuberculosis programs available to answer parents' questions."

School officials say anyone seeking more information can attend the sessions, call the Philadelphia Department of Public Health's Tuberculosis Control unit at 215-685-6873, or the school nurses at 215-728-5018.

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The American Lung Association says that although TB is infectious, it is very difficult to contract.

It says those with TB infections will have no symptoms. A person with active TB disease may have any, all or none of the following symptoms:

*A persistent cough

*Constant fatigue

*Weight loss

*Loss of appetite

*Fever

*Coughing up blood

*Night sweats

For more information, visit American Lung Association.

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