IRVING (CBS 11 NEWS) – MacArthur High School is the second high school in Irving where a student has tested for positive for tuberculosis since the start of the 2013 school year.
When Irving Independent School District officials received word late last week from Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) about the case of TB, the school district sent out an automated message to all 2700 students.
While the student with tuberculosis has not been publicly identified, a school district spokesperson said the youngster contracted the disease outside of Texas, and has a family history of tuberculosis.
Eighty students and teachers who may have been exposed to the student with TB, are being encouraged to get testing by the health department on Tuesday.
To address concerns, the school district will hold a meeting for parents, students, employees and any community members, on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the MacArthur High School cafeteria. A representative from DCHHS will be on hand to answer questions.
Back in September in an unrelated case, a Nimitz High School student tested positive for tuberculosis, which led to 137 students and staff being tested. Five of those tests came back as past positive — meaning, the individual was once positive for tuberculosis, but does not have the disease any more.
“It’s a treatable disease. The challenge is to identify these cases very early,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, who is head of the pediatric infectious disease department at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.
Dr. Kahn explains why tuberculosis is a public health issue. “The fact that there is one child presenting with TB means it’s likely there are many, many other individuals who have been exposed. If those individuals aren’t identified, they may develop and spread to other individuals they have been in contact with.”
DCHHS workers will be at MacArthur High School on Tuesday to conduct the free testing, and will be back later in the week to check the test results.
“I’m kind of nervous. I don’t want to get it,” said Alexus Wagstaff, a senior at MacArthur High School.
Wagstaff says her mother is a nurse, and is up to date with information on tuberculosis, but she says her mother may attend the meeting Monday evening, just in case.
“It’s really just education, helping people understand how tuberculosis is contracted. Also, just to calm fears, and let everybody know we don’t think there’s an epidemic,” said Lesley Weaver, spokesperson for Irving ISD.
According to Weaver, the Nimitz student who had tuberculosis is doing well; the student is on medication and is back in class, no longer contagious.
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