OLATHE, Kan. — Health officials have identified a case of active tuberculosis in an Olathe Northwest High School student.

The Johnson County Health Department said the student is complying with isolation precautions and is receiving medication for the illness.

Symptoms of tuberculosis include a cough lasting longer than three weeks, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, chills, fever and coughing up blood.

Tuberculosis is spread through the air by coughing, sneezing, laughing or singing, but the only way to contract the disease is through frequent or close contact with someone who has an active case.

“It’s important to note tuberculosis isn’t easily spread from person-to-person. It takes a lot of close, personal contact,” Charlie Hunt, Johnson County health director, said Tuesday.

Tuberculosis is known for attacking a patient’s lungs. However, Hunt and others said it doesn’t spread as easily as other infectious diseases, like influenza or COVID-19.

It can’t be spread by touching someone’s clothing, glass or utensils, hands or other surfaces.

“You have to have a longer exposure to be infected with tuberculosis as compared to some of these other infections, ” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Kansas Health System.

“I think everyone should remain calm and listen to the advice the state and county health departments are giving.”

Health officials have already started identifying people the student has been in contact with and are working to make sure any others are identified and treated.

The Johnson County Health Department will be holding tuberculosis testing clinics Oct. 12 at Olathe Northwest for those who are identified as contacts. Letters were sent to staff and students’ parents on Monday.

There will also be a forum for Olathe Northwest students and parents with tuberculosis experts from the health department to answer questions.

Health officials noted that tuberculosis is preventable and treatable. The disease is usually treated with antibiotics for 6-9 months, and a patient will usually no longer be contagious after a few days or weeks of treatment.

The Johnson County Health Department stressed that it closely follows and treats all active tuberculosis cases.