TB case discovered at JFK High - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

TB case discovered at JFK High

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - A highly infectious disease is discovered at one of Guam's largest high schools. The case so far is said to be isolated, but testing is planned to ensure an outbreak is not on the horizon. Tuberculosis is probably one of the last things a parent wants their child to come home with. But that's what happened recently with a student from John F. Kennedy High School. 

Coordinator of the TB Control Program at the Department of Public Health Cecilia Arciaga said, "The individual was seen by a private provider and was diagnosed as a case of active TB, so as soon as the diagnosis was made I made contact with the school informing them."

JFK Assistant Principal Barbara Roberto says the school sprang into action identifying those who may have come into contact with the individual. She told KUAM News, "Those would be the classmates of the particular student if the student was involved in a particular activity or organization or sporting event then the coaches and the students where also given the same letter."

A letter about 200 students and teachers received informing them they must be tested for TB before May 23 in order to continue attending classes. Free TB tests will be given on May 16 from 8am to 12pm. Roberto says the school nurses do their best to make sure student immunizations are up to date but that's not always fool proof. "Maybe her records, he or she their records could have been up to date and then she or he just came into contact with some one who was a carrier," she added.

TB is an airborne disease caused by bacteria that can affect the lungs brain bones and other organs of the body. "If you have the active disease and you have are not treated, of course it can cause death," said Arciaga. "But at this age and time, there is no reason for people to be dying of the disease because it is a curable disease."

Early prevention is key. Arciaga recommends anyone with a lingering cough or fever, common symptoms of the disease, be seen by their doctor.

Tuberculosis kills over 4,400 people worldwide everyday. The problem is especially pronounced on Guam, compared to other parts of the U.S. The rates of TB b being 15% higher than in the mainland and 8% higher than Hawaii.

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