Symptoms of Tuberculosis; student tests positive at Stratford High School

GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - Possible exposure to Tuberculosis leaves 176 students, faculty and staff needing to be tested at Stratford High School.

A student last enrolled at the school on November 25th of last year has the disease, but it is treatable.

Dr. Charles Staples with the Trident Medical Center says Tuberculosis, also known as TB is a bacteria that causes infections mostly in your lungs.

TB can also affect other parts of your body like kidneys and even your brain.

Staples says TB is uncommon and it can be hard to diagnose.

"We definitely recommend evaluation if you're having a cough more than two or three weeks, especially associated with night sweats, weight loss, coughing up blood, pain in your chest with a cough or deep breathing," said Staples.

Staples says it's hard to diagnose right away because there are so many symptoms.

People who spend a lot of time with someone who has the disease are at a higher risk.

Staples said, "For instance, we commonly think about folks who stay in homeless shelters or other close quarters like jails. Certainly anyone's home would be considered close contact."

Staples says coughing is the main way TB can spread to others. He says it can take being exposed over and over again before someone gets sick.

"So for instance you could walk into a room briefly for a few minutes with someone coughing, walk out and not have any trouble, but then again there's no way to know for sure," said Staples.

The 176 faculty, students and staff who have been exposed at Stratford High School will be given a free blood test called a Tspot.

The results are usually back within 24 hours and a positive result doesn't always mean someone has the disease.

There's also something called the TB germ.

Staples said, "If you have the germ and it's in the latent phase, in other words it's kind of living in your lungs and other parts of your body but it's not actively causing symptoms of infection. If you're not coughing you most likely would not spread that to others."

Doctor staples says if the germ enters the active phase and it becomes a disease, that's when it is more likely to spread to others if left untreated.

Amy Kovach, the director of communication for Berkeley County schools say they do not know how the student came down with Tuberculosis, but they know that November 25th was the last day the student was enrolled at Stratford High.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TB is treated by taking several drugs for 6 to 12 months.

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