Tuberculosis Case Confirmed In McAlester

Monday, June 23rd 2014, 5:52 pm
By: Tess Maune

A case of tuberculosis has been confirmed in Pittsburg County. Mike Echelle with the County Health Department says the person who tested positive was in contact with as many as 50 people at the William Gay Early Childhood Development Center.

The school is a McAlester Public Schools campus in the 600 block of West Madison Avenue.

Echelle said not everyone at the school is risk, just those who had close, personal contact with the person for an extended period time. Those people could be both students and staff.

The health department has sent out letters urging anyone who may have been in close contact with the infected person to get tested. Echelle said he can't release any details about the person who tested positive, so we don't know if it was a student or staff member.

A meeting was held Monday night to answer questions and put parents at ease. Dr. Charles Hardey says TB is a lung disease, and it's contracted through air, but only in small spaces.

In a classroom setting, the doctor says it would take about eight hours of heavy exposure to become infected.

The doctor said children can't transmit it to each other. He also said about 150,000 people in Oklahoma are TB positive but will never know.

"Most people never, ever develop active contagious tuberculosis," Dr. Charles Hardey said. "Most people that are infected live their entire lives and enjoy things like you and I do and never have a problem with it."

TB is reportable by law.

Echelle said the exposure period was between late February and the end of May.

The disease is curable, but the doctor says it takes six to nine months of daily medication for it to go away.

The health department says the chances of any student testing positive are slim.

Some of the symptoms are coughing, night sweats and weight loss.