Bensalem H.S. student diagnosed with TB

March 27, 2008 3:25:57 PM PDT
A student at Bensalem High School, in Bucks County, has contracted tuberculosis and now the school plans to tests those who came in close contact with her.There was a crash course Thursday in infectious disease for Bensalem's almost 2000 high schoolers.

If not treated properly TB can be fatal, but in the Bensalem case the student referred to in a letter to parents is on medication. The 14-year-old freshman is now confined to her home.

Health authorities are planning to test those students and teachers who were in closest contact, and might have been exposed.

"Right now, I would say we are going to start with testing on possibly 80 students," Julie Yantes, R.N., the TB program supervisor of Bucks County Health Department.

TB is a bacterial disease that usually attacks the lungs. In order for it to spread, Nurse Yantes says there must be prolonged direct exposure to an infected person; TB doesn't spread easily like measels or chickenpox.

"TB is not spread by sharing a sandwich someone eats, touching somebody; it's really hard to catch tuberculosis," Nurse Yantes said.

Tuberculosis was once the leading cause of death in the US, but that was in another era. For this generation, TB was something some of the students Action News spoke to had never heard of.

TB can cause pain, a bad cough, fatigue, chills, fever and night sweats, and it can be fatal. But county health officials say in a letter to be mailed to parents Thursday that in this case, it can easily be cured with medication.