LADSON, SC (WCSC) - Berkeley County School District officials say 176 individuals at Stratford High School have been recommended to undergo testing for tuberculosis after it was discovered a student tested positive for the infectious disease earlier this week.
According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, a Stratford High School student tested positive for tuberculosis Wednesday morning. Officials were informed late Monday afternoon of the case and took immediate action.
Emergency officials say the patient was placed in isolation and is receiving care to prevent the spread of the infection.
School district officials say a total of 176 students and members of the school's faculty and staff have been recommended for DHEC testing after previously coming into contact with the student.
According to authorities, DHEC is working with school officials to determine if any other areas, such as the student's bus and classrooms, may have been exposed.
It is unknown how the student contracted the disease, as the student's last day in school was November 25, a representative for the school district said.
BCSD sent the following message to all Stratford High School families Wednesday afternoon regarding the case:
The safety of students and staff at Stratford High School is our highest priority, so it is important that we make you aware of an incident at Stratford High School.
An individual at Stratford High School has been identified as having Tuberculosis (TB) and is no longer in the school. Those students who may have been exposed to the germ that causes TB will receive a letter from DHEC today explaining next steps for testing. The school is working very closely with and following guidance from DHEC to follow all procedures to keep all students and staff safe.
Unless you receive a letter, your child does not need to be tested by DHEC at this time. If you have concerns and your child has not been recommended for testing, please contact your primary care physician.
TB is a lung infection that can only be transmitted through the air and can be effectively treated with antibiotics. TB particles may dissipate in a matter of minutes in well-ventilated areas and, in the worst case, can only live in the air for a few hours before they die. This means that a place is free from TB a short time after a contagious person leaves.
We understand that you may have questions or want additional information. If so, please call 1-800-868-0404 or visit www.scdhec.gov/health/disease/tb<http://www.scdhec.gov/health/disease/tb>.
DHEC released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
Late Monday afternoon, DHEC was informed by a medical facility of a possible case of tuberculosis infection involving a student at Stratford High School, and took immediate action to thoroughly assess and contain the situation. DHEC's standard, thorough protocol went into effect:
· DHEC medical staff met with the patient Tuesday morning for an extensive Q&A to determine how and where any other people might have been exposed.
· The patient is in isolation to receive round-the-clock care and prevent spread of the infection.
· DHEC received a sample from the patient's doctors on Wednesday morning and confirmed the tuberculosis infection within just a few hours.
· Because the patient is a student, DHEC is working closely with school officials to determine where others could potentially have been exposed, such as the student's bus and classrooms.
· This helps DHEC determine who else should be tested as soon as possible.
· The school district informed parents Wednesday afternoon through its reverse 911 system of the situation and directed them to the district and DHEC websites for more information.
· Also on Wednesday, letters went home from school to the pool of students most likely to have come in contact with the patient. That letter includes a release form to give DHEC permission to test their child.
· The patient's family and close contacts are being tested Thursday, and students will be scheduled for testing Thursday and Friday.
· Lab results, available within 72 hours of testing, will determine the need for other action