Tuberculosis cases discussed at meeting | News

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Tuberculosis cases discussed at meeting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- Four parents signed in for the meeting between Duval County Health officials, the Duval County School district and concerned parents Thursday night.

Duval County School District spokeswoman, Marsha Oliver called the meeting "unprecedented."

Director of the Florida Department of Health in Duval County, Dr. Kelli Wells, stood before the audience speaking about what Tuberculosis is, how it is spread and what parents and students needed to know.

Carol Smith was one of the parents in attendance. Her 15-year-old son is a freshman at the school.

"I want to know why everyone at his school wasn't tested," she told FCN's David Williams.

The meeting comes in the wake of two confirmed cases of active Tuberculosis at Andrew Jackson High School. The Florida Department of Health in Duval County identified 106 people from the school for testing after the department learned that a student was recently hospitalized with active TB. That student was released from the hospital and health officials said the student was doing fine.

Thursday, spokesman for the Florida Department of Health in Duval County, Charles Griggs told FCN that parents at the school and in the community do not need to worry. Griggs told FCN that 40 people still have to be tested for TB.

Griggs said so far, no one has tested positive for TB and that as of Thursday, there were no new active cases of TB.

According to Griggs, there were 679 cases of active TB in Florida in 2012. Eighty-six of them were in Duval county.


Griggs said in 2013 there are 472 in Fla. so far, with 33 in Duval County.

According to the Florida Department of Health in Duval County, TB is a disease caused by germs spread from person to person in close contact through the air. TB germs are put in the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings.

Persons who breathe in the air containing TB germs can become infected.

The Centers for Disease Control's website says there is a vaccine for Tuberculosis disease, but it is not generally recommended for use in the United States because of the low risk of infection.

"I think it's horrible. I think the doctors need to do something about it. And make sure these kids don't get this stuff," said Twenda McKinley, who's grandson attends Andrew Jackson High School.

Robert Mingo has a daughter who attends the school.

"I think the school is doing the cautionary and preliminary actions that they need to be," Mingo said.

On Your Side, what diseases would cause the local health department to be contacted by the school system and file a report?

Arthur Van Blarcum, Assistant Superintendent of Camden County, Georgia schools said, "There is a rather long list of reportable diseases that can be found on the Center for Disease Control Website. Included are such diseases as bacterial meningitis, TB, rabies outbreak, typhoid fever etc."

First For You, what are some things you as parents can do right now I you think your child might be getting sick at school from something like Tuberculosis? First Coast News spoke to several school districts along the First Coast and in South Georgia.

Columbia County

Kim Allison, Health Corrdinator for Columbia County Schools is a registered nurse. Here are 5 things she says you can do right now:

1. Keep your child home if he/she is ill.

2. Seek medical help from your family physician. Remember to give an accurate account of symptoms and the length of the illness. Know your child's immunization status.

3. Teach your child to cover their cough, not with their hands. The best practice is to cough into a tissue or cough into your elbow.

4. Frequent hand washing is a very healthy practice for anyone.

5. Keep your family healthy. A healthy immunity is more resistant to germs. Keep your family well nourished and well hydrated, eating a variety of healthy foods. Protect your body from unhealthy substances such as cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.

Camden County

Arthur Van Blarcum is Assistant Superintendent of Camden County, Georgia Schools.

"In general the first thing we recommend is should a parent think their child might have a disease or condition that could possible threaten or spread to others is keep the child home," Van Blarcum said. "They should then immediately contact their doctor or the health clinic to have the student evaluated."

Van Blarcum went on to say that is a student is diagnosed with a contagious disease, the district asks that a parent tell the school.

Van Blarcum offered these suggestions for parents related to TB:

1. Determine if students have had close, extended contact with infected students.

2. Monitor their children for; increased cough, any change in color of secretions from the mouth or nose, difficulty breathing or complaining of "just don't feel good."

IF any of the aforementioned conditions exist..

3. Seek medical attention for a skin test and/or chest x-ray and sputum culture.

4. Contact the Health dept in their area.

Clay County

Gavin Rollins, spokesperson for Clay County Schools recommends that parents take their child to see their primary care provider if they are showing signs of fever or cough.

"The School District also partnered with Healthy Schools and Tony Bosilli to provide free flu mist vaccines for any student wishing to receive one. This is one new way we are seeking to create healthy schools," he said.


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