The Riverside County Department of Public Health announced on Monday that a Vista Murrieta High School student is suspected of having tuberculosis.(TB)
County health officials are now working diligently to identify both students and staff who were possibly exposed to the illness.
Approximately 250 letters are being sent to students and parents of students under the age of 18 years to advise them of possible exposure to tuberculosis. The Health Department also recommended those who receive letters be screened with a TB skin test at a clinic being planned at the high school. Anyone who receives the notification letter can also opt to be tested by their own health care provider.
If the skin test reads positive, the individual will get a chest x-ray and follow up with an appropriate provider. The x-ray will help determine whether an individual might simply have been exposed to the illness rather than having active TB.
Those who do not receive notification from the County’s Public Health Department are considered not to be at risk for exposure, and TB testing is not recommended.
According to Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the risk of transmission is low. He explained, “While the risk of infection is slight, it is important that those who are notified take the time to get tested.” He added, “The testing is simple, does not take much time and can provide peace of mind.”
TB is spread through the air during prolonged, repeated and close contact with an individual who is infected with active tuberculosis. People may contract TB when breathing air exhaled by someone who is sick with the disease. The disease is not spread by shaking hands, sharing food or drink, or via bed linens or toilet seats. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. A person with inactive or latent TB cannot spread it to others.
When left untreated, TB can result in serious complications.