KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A student at Kalamazoo Central High School has been diagnosed with tuberculosis.
At a Thursday press conference, officials said they were notified Friday that the male student who attended classes regularly at Kalamazoo Central High School had tuberculosis and received confirmation Tuesday.
“The individual isn’t in the school anymore so nothing infectious is going on in the school at this point in time,” Linda Vail of the Kalamazoo County Health and Human Services Department said at the press conference.
It’s not yet known how he contracted the illness. Vail said the illness is passed through direct contact with someone who is already infected and is exhibiting symptoms.
“I have to be directly next to somebody who coughs and inhale … the air droplets that comes from that cough or that sneeze in order to be at risk of that infection,” Vail said.
Three hundred people — both staff and students — who had direct contact with the student will have to get tested for the illness. Letters were sent home Wednesday to parents of students who need to be tested and those parents were also called Thursday.
Skin testing of anyone who had direct contact with the student will begin Monday. They will conduct more skin testing in a couple of weeks to determine if anyone has contracted the disease.
“We will catch all of this early on,” Vail said.
She urged the public to not worry.
“I’d like to say to parents who are very concerned that they should try to calm down and we are trying to allay their concerns because yes, there was an individual in the school who has TB. There is not a very likely scenario that others will necessarily contract the disease. Very, very slim, rare chances of that even happening,” Vail said. “Most people who are exposed to it will not contract the disease.”
No other students have shown symptoms.
Tuberculosis is treatable. At the press conference, officials said it consisted of between two and three months of antibiotics. However, if left untreated, it can be fatal.
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The school contacted all parents, including those of students who do not need testing, in a letter Thursday.
“Tuberculosis sounds kind of like a disease from a past century but it still does exist,” Vail said.
There were 141 cases of tuberculosis in Michigan in 2013. Fewer than five of those were in Kalamazoo County.
‘The statistics will tell you that it’s not a highly serious disease in this country any more,” Vail said.
There is a vaccination for tuberculosis, but it is no longer required.