As the days go by, parents of T.C. Williams students remain concerned over the one case of tuberculosis discovered at the school recently.
Principal John Porter explained to parents in a letter that one student did test positive for TB and nearly 300 others were in the process of being tested.
In the letter, Porter explained the situation to parents, saying, “The student is being treated and those who were in classes with that student or on a school bus with that student will be tested as a precaution.”
Dr. Charles Konigsberg, the director of the city’s health department explained that the student was being treated with four different drugs and expected the student to fully recover.
“We will test all other students who were in close proximity to the student who has tuberculosis will be tested.
“We are doing this solely as a precaution but it is highly unlikely that we would see other students get tuberculosis in a school setting. It is contagious but requires direct and extensive exposure,” Konigsberg said.
WORLDWIDE, there are about three million cases of tuberculosis each year. In the U. S., there are about 20,000. In Alexandria, there are between 8-17, according to data for the past seven years. The disease is passed by coughing.
Tuberculosis skin tests are required for all students entering the Alexandria City Public School system and again at ninth grade. “The skin test is really just a snapshot in time,” Konigsberg said. “Someone who is tested one day could test positive a week later.”
He does not believe that children should be tested every year. “I believe that we should test high-risk populations,” he said.
Students who show a positive skin test are then x-rayed. “You can get a positive skin test and still not have someone with active tuberculosis,” Konigsberg said. “The skin test simply tells us that the individual has been exposed to tuberculosis.”
Anyone whose child is being tested has been notified by T. C. staff. “If you didn’t receive a second letter indicating that your child needed further testing, don’t worry about it,” Konigsberg said.