A case of contagious tuberculosis at the state’s second-largest school drew much attention as blood tests were given to 325 Coronado High School students and staff, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the results.
The Southern Nevada Health District likely won’t release how many positive cases of TB, if any, came back from the lab, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore.
The health district, which investigated the case and tested the blood of those at risk for catching the potentially lethal disease, will return for a second round of TB tests in eight to 12 weeks. But those results likely won’t be made public either, Sizemore said Monday.
The health district usually gives notices only to those who test positive for TB unless the infection is at the contagious stage, she said.
That’s because any hits for TB will likely be for the “latent” form of the disease, which is unable to spread to others and doesn’t create a public health concern, she said.
The only reason that the health district would send a mass notice after a positive TB test — as it and the Clark County School District did Nov. 12 in a letter to all Coronado parents as a result of one infection — is if the case is confirmed as contagious.
Becoming contagious this soon after exposure is unlikely.
TB, which usually attacks the lungs, is contracted by breathing in the bacteria directly from the infected person who may be coughing, sneezing or simply speaking.
A contagious person will be sick and may even be coughing up blood.
Although deadly, TB bacteria can infect a person but remain inactive in the system. This is called latent TB.
A person with latent TB would test positive, but the body has been able to fight the bacteria and keep the person from getting sick. Many with latent TB may have it their whole lives without developing the disease or becoming infected and sick, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC regards TB as “one of the world’s deadliest diseases,” with 9,945 new U.S. cases last year.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0279.