CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. – A case of tuberculosis has been reported at a Cheatham County high school.
The Tennessee Department of Health notified the school system about a possible exposure at Sycamore High School on March 11, and it was confirmed on March 27. Health officials said the potential exposure occurred earlier in the school year.
The Health Department is conducting a public health investigation, and will schedule an on-site clinic to screen students who have been in close contact with the infected patient.
The Cheatham County School System is cooperating with the Health Department, and chose to develop an action plan to address safety concerns and distribute parental information.
"We are fully cooperating with the Department of Health while this investigation is underway. The health and safety of our students remain our number one priority within the school district," said Shelley Mayo, supervisor of coordinated school health in Cheatham County Schools.
Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Juli Horton at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville said it is unusual for a high school age student to be diagnosed with tuberculosis. It is normally seen in older patients with weakened immune systems.
"In this case, the real concern is we want to know if anyone has been exposed and needs treatment," said Dr. Horton. "Treatment sooner rather than later is helpful."
Dr. Horton said the Health Department normally investigates all TB cases.
"I have great faith in the Health Department that they will investigate fully and see who might be at risk," said Dr. Horton.
Tuberculosis is spread through the air from one person to another, and can be fatal if not treated. Symptoms include a chronic cough, coughing up blood, weight loss or weakness.
The date of the clinic hasn't been set yet. The school system will notify parents of the test date.