OLATHE, Kan. — The Johnson County Health Department spent the day testing hundreds of people for tuberculosis at a local high school.
It comes after an Olathe Northwest student recently tested positive for the disease.
The Kansas City Start reports health officials tested over 250 people on Thursday, determining if there are any other cases.
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.
“This is a disease that is not passed easily from person to person,” said Charlie Hunt, Johnson County health director.
“The unique aspect of a school is students are together for an hour at a time during their classes day in day out, week after week, so there’s a risk for transmission there.”
Health officials have also been working to identify people the student has been in contact with and that any others are identified and treated.
Symptoms of tuberculosis include a cough lasting longer than three weeks, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, chills, fever and coughing up blood.
Tuberculosis is known for attacking a patient’s lungs and can be serious if not treated. However, Hunt and others said it doesn’t spread as easily as other infectious diseases, like influenza or COVID-19.
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.