Chest x-ray Tuberculosis case
Tuberculosis case. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency is working with school districts after it was revealed that two local high schools were sites of tuberculosis infections, officials said Wednesday.

The agency is collaborating with the San Diego Unified School District and the Sweetwater Union School District to notify people who might have been exposed to the disease earlier this year at Mission Bay and Montgomery high schools.

The districts have notified people with a higher exposure risk and are arranging no-cost TB screening for those who are at increased risk of infection. The period of possible exposure was from April 2 to Sept. 16 at Montgomery High School and from June 17 to July 10 at Mission Bay High School.

Students and staff with increased risk for exposure have been identified, but other students and staff may also have been exposed.

Tuberculosis is an airborne disease that is transmitted from person to person through inhalation of bacteria. Chances of infection are higher for people with frequent and prolonged indoor exposure to a person who is sick with TB.

“Symptoms of active tuberculosis most commonly include persistent cough, fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “Most people who become infected after exposure to tuberculosis do not get sick right away. Some who become infected with TB will become ill at some point in the future, sometimes even years later,” she said. “Blood tests and skin tests are effective to determine whether someone has been infected.”

According to the HHSA, treatments are available that are effective in preventing people infected with tuberculosis from getting sick and in curing people who are sick. It is especially important for individuals with symptoms of TB and those who are immune-compromised to see their medical provider to rule out an active case and to discuss treatment.

More information on the possible exposures is available from the San Diego County TB Control Program at 619-692-8621.

The number of annual tuberculosis cases in San Diego County has decreased since the early 1990s and has stabilized in recent years. There were 201 cases reported in 2021. Through September of this year, 126 cases have been reported.

City News Service



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Ellen Bullock