NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Concerns about tuberculosis in the Ennis ISD and the possible infection of other North Texas students reached such a high level Thursday afternoon that the City of Ennis announced free Tuberculosis (TB) Testing Clinics would be held for all current Ennis High School students, faculty and staff who had not already been tested by the state.
The free TB Testing Clinic will be held at the Ennis Regional Medical Center on:
♦ Monday, October 3, 2011 from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm
♦ Wednesday, October 5, 2011 from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm
♦ Monday, October 10, 2011 from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm
♦ Wednesday, October 12, 2011 from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Meanwhile, a lot of folks in North Texas were expressing concerns about school football teams taking the field against players from Ennis.
A former Ennis High School teacher contracted an active form of tuberculosis and Thursday the Texas Department of State Health confirmed more than 100 people in Ennis have tested positive for the latent or non-active form of TB.
At a Thursday press conference, Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Zach Thompson said his office has received a lot of calls from parents and school districts.
“We’re wanting to put the concerns to rest that we don’t see any issues where individuals need to bring their own water [to the games], or be concerned about contracting TB from another player,” he said.
KRLD’s Barbara Schwarz reports:
State health officials confirmed 128 people in Ennis have tested positive for non-active TB and up to 10 people there are now suspected of having active TB.
It’s Homecoming Weekend for West Mesquite High School, which is hosting Ennis. The freshman and junior varsity football games are Thursday, the big [varsity] game is Friday night and a homecoming dance will happen on Saturday.
Despite the physical contact during the games, some local parents who talked with CBS 11 News said they had no worries about the TB contagion.
“I think our kids are safe,” said Melissa Davis, who has two daughters in high school. Tiffany Barnes and Darla Spence’s children will also take part in homecoming activities, but no one was worried. “They’re going to have very little contact and it’s outdoors,” said Davis, “it’s not like they’re hugging each other. I mean, they’re going to be tackled, but I think that’s different. Like I said, if my son was still playing today, I’d let him play.”
“I was a little concerned about the game coming tonight,” echoed Darla Spence, who quickly added that the school website helped change her mind. “I think Mesquite has come out and educated a little bit more and said it’s okay.”
The Mesquite ISD website published information from state health officials that’s helped put many parent’s minds at ease.
The district also has a kid of ‘phone tree’ to reach out even further. “We have a school messenger system that actually calls parents. We can also deliver e-mails and text messages as well,” explained MISD spokeswoman Laura Jobe. “It’s very helpful to get information out in a quick manner.”
The MISD message mirrors that of Dallas County health officials.
The Waxahachie ISD put out a notice that said they would bring their own water to play Ennis, but Dallas Health Director Thompson said that isn’t necessary since any player who tested positive won’t be on the field and parents and schools should just let the kids play.
“We just want to put the fears to rest with the upcoming football games that are coming up, that there’s no reason to cancel the games,” said Thompson. “There’s no reason to be concerned.”
Next week, Dallas County Health will help Ennis with TB testing and follow-up.
Health officials say the TB bacterium is usually spread in close quarters, not an outdoor setting; and it’s not spread through sweat, saliva or shaking hands, so sporting events should pose no problems.