Get Schooled

Your source to discuss and learn about education in Georgia and the nation and share opinions and news with Maureen Downey

Sleepless nights for APS parents in middle school with confirmed case of TB

Here are two letters likely to lead to sleepless nights for some parents at one Atlanta middle school where Tuberculosis was confirmed in someone at the school.

WebMD explains TB this way : Tuberculosis, commonly known as TB, is a bacterial infection that can spread through the lymph nodes and bloodstream to any organ in your body. It is most often found in the lungs. Most people who are exposed to TB never develop symptoms because the bacteria can live in an inactive form in the body. But if the immune system weakens, such as in people with HIV or elderly adults, TB bacteria can become active. In their active state, TB bacteria cause death of tissue in the organs they infect. Active TB disease can be fatal if left untreated.

First, a letter from the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness:

The Atlanta Public School system, in coordination with Fulton County Health Services, has notified parents of students at Bunche Middle School that a person who was regularly at the school has active tuberculosis. Tests confirmed that this individual had active disease on March 20th.

Fulton Health Services was notified about the suspected case the week of February 23, 2015. Preliminary tests for active TB were negative, but notice was sent out to parents Friday, March 13th informing them that a possible active case had been at the school.

When test results confirmed the case on March 20th, a plan to conduct testing at the school was developed between APS and Fulton County and parents were notified by letter on March 24th.

School and health officials are holding an information session at the school Thursday at 6pm. Because this involves confidential medical and personal information, attendance at the meeting is limited to parents, students and staff of Bunche Middle School.

The free testing is scheduled for Tuesday, March 31st, from 10am-2pm. The results will be read and reported to those tested two days later on Thursday, April 2nd, from 10am-2pm.

And this letter from APS to parents:

Dear Parent or Guardian,

We are following up with the letter that we sent home on March 13, 2015 regarding a suspected case of Tuberculosis at Bunche Middle School. The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness has received confirmation of the case and we are immediately notifying individuals who have had contact with this person.

If you have received this letter, we are requesting that your child receive a TB skin test either by the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness or by a primary care provider.

The bacterium that causes TB can be spread in the air and from person-to-person through respiratory droplets via coughing or sneezing. Fortunately, this bacterium is not as contagious as the germs that cause the common cold or flu. It is not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with TB has been. The Department of Health and Wellness has reassured us that there is very little chance of getting the bacteria unless you have been in prolonged or close contact with someone who has active TB.

Testing will be offered at no cost on Tuesday March 31, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the school. It is necessary to return in two days to have the skin test result read. The test results will be read on Thursday April 2, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the school. If the skin test shows a reaction, this does not mean that your child has active TB, but it does mean that further medical evaluation is needed. If your child tests positive, the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness will notify you, and your child will need to go to the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness for further evaluation.

If your child has taken a previous TB test and the result was positive, documentation of this test result should be faxed to the Department of Health and Wellness at 404-730-1499. This result could determine whether your child is eligible to be tested as part of this event, and it could influence the interpretation of a new test if it is provided. In addition, if your child has received BCG vaccine (a vaccine provided for TB in many countries outside of the United States), the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness still recommends that they be tested or receive a QFT (QuantiFeron TB-Gold test).

There will be a TB information session at Bunche Middle School at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the auditorium.

Anyone in your family can attend this session. Please complete and sign the attached form and bring it to the school on Thursday for the informational session or send it back to the school prior to March 26, 2015.

This information is required to provide this health service for your child. Representatives from the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness and the school system's Office of Student Health Services will be present to provide additional information and answer any questions.

If you choose to have your child tested by their primary care provider, please have the provider fill out all of the information in the attached form and fax it to the Fulton County Health Department at 404-730-1499. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

If you have questions about TB or testing, please refer to the fact sheet on the other side of this letter or contact the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness TB Control Program, Monday - Friday, between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 404-613-1501.

We will continue to work closely with the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness. Thank you for your partnership and support. Please be assured that we are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for both our students and faculty.


Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.