TB testing begins at a Tulsa elementary school

Tuesday, November 16th 2004, 10:18 am
By: News On 6

Last week a Cherokee Elementary School student in Tulsa was identified as having contracted tuberculosis.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells says some students and staff were tested Tuesday to determine their level of exposure to the disease.

Tuesday was testing day at Cherokee Elementary. 91 students and 11 staff members were identified as among a core group with the greatest exposure to the infected student. So the Tulsa City-County Health Department sent out a couple of nurses to test that group.

Janice Sheehan with the health department: "It tell us whether the child has been infected with the germ or not. That doesn't mean you have the disease and unless you have the disease you can't give the germ to someone else."

So the students and staff lined up stuck out heir arms and got stuck. Cherokee Elementary School principal Jody Tell: "they are saying it doesn't hurt at all, there's nothing to it." That doesn't mean they weren't concerned. Jody Tell: They were worried and nervous." Of course they were, but the experts tell us tuberculosis is not the health threat it once was.

The Centers for Disease Control web site says tuberculosis is very treatable with antibiotics. So the students checked in, to be checked out.

The Tulsa City-County Health Department will be back on Thursday to read the tests. Any who show positive results will be evaluated for further treatment and perhaps a larger group will have to be tested. In the meantime, there is education in this for everyone.

Jody Tell: "its education, as far as diseases and what are out there, precautions that we take. TB is curable with medication and its nothing to fear, it's just something you need to take care of." Sometimes education comes at the end of a needle.

Even if all the results are negative the health department will go back in about ten weeks to test the same group a second time just to be sure.