27 students at Olathe Northwest High School test positive for TB

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Courtesy: Walter Dawn and Barts Hospital.
These are generic xrays of a person with moderately advanced TB

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OLATHE, Kan. — 27 students at Olathe Northwest High School have tested positive for TB.

Those who tested positive for TB are not contagious, do not feel sick and do not have TB symptoms, according to a press release from the  Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

315 students began being tested after a student at Olathe Northwest High School was diagnosed with active tuberculosis.

According to the press release, health officials began calling those with a positive TB test on Monday. Letters were mailed home to those who tested negative.

“The number of individuals with TB infection does not exceed what we would anticipate in this setting,” Lougene Marsh, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, said in the press release. “Of course, we had hoped we wouldn’t find any additional TB cases, but we knew this was a possibility. That’s why we took such thorough steps to test everyone who might have been in close contact with the first confirmed case of TB disease.”

Those who tested positive for TB will receive chest x-rays and begin treatment with antibiotics to kill the TB bacteria and prevent the development of the TB disease. Care for the students will be provided free of charge by the KDHE and KCDHE.

“Early identification and treatment of TB infection is the key to preventing progression to TB disease,” Marsh said in the release. “That’s why we are working so closely with the school and KDHE to investigate this case and assure that all precautions are being taken for the safety of everyone in the school and the community.”

Students will be tested again on May 5 because it can take up to eight weeks for TB bacteria to show up positive in a TB test.

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