With the confirmation of at least one case of confirmed tuberculosis (TB) at Waynesville High School (WHS) the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is conducting a TB contact investigation.
That investigation includes testing students at WHS on Wednesday. The results of those tests are expected back "on or before Tuesday, Dec. 12," according to a press release from the Waynesville School District. Students who test negative in the first round of testing will be tested again in eight to 10 weeks and, according to information given by DHSS at the forum held Tuesday night, it's very important to take the second round of tests.
A person recently exposed may not test positive in the first round of tests, but may have gotten the infection, and it will show up in the second round. DHSS said a positive test in the second round will show that it was recent exposure and the infection came from the exposure.
Waynesville School District said, in a press release Wednesday afternoon, that it would be paying for the cost of both rounds of testing. DHSS said it will pay for any medication and treatment for any individuals diagnosed with TB during this contact investigation.
Waynesville School District, in parternship with the DHSS, held a forum at Waynesville High School's auditorium Tuesday night for the community to answer questions and provide information about the recent diagnosis of a student(s) with tuberculosis. The Daily Guide recorded this meeting in its entirety and that video is available on our website and Youtube channel. If you're reading this article online, the video is available at the end of the article.
During the forum, professionals from DHSS discussed the difference between TB disease and TB infection. TB infection is not contagious, however TB disease is contagious. When asked if the case at WHS is TB Disease, the Daily Guide was told that the organization does not conduct investigations for cases that aren't and confirmed that the case at WHS is TB disease.
During the question and answer portion of the presentation an attendee asked how many cases had been found at WHS and were told that DHSS would not give numbers in order to protect the privacy of the individual(s) because that kind of information can be used to identify people in a small community.
There are, on average, 90 cases of TB disease in Missouri each year and about 3,500 TB infections. According to DHSS' website statitstics for TB, Pulaski County had 2 TB infections in 2016 and no TB disease cases. Neighboring Phelps County had 32 TB infections in 2016, but zero TB disease cases. In 2015, Pulaski had three cases of TB infection, while Phelps had 42 cases, but both had zero TB disease.
DHSS said that treating TB infection was important in order to prevent TB disease and further spread of of tuberculosis.