10 more cases of tuberculosis confirmed in a Texas high school-increasing total to 24 infected

Ten more cases of tuberculosis have been diagnosed at a Texas high school, bringing the total number of cases to 24.

All of the infections are among students at George Bush High School in Fort Bend County, Texas, which is near Houston.

The first four were confirmed in late May, prompting public health officials to do routine screening of all of the student to make sure the outbreak is contained.

Those involved active disease, which can be contagious and potentially fatal if not treated. The other 20 have been symptom-free, meaning the infection isn’t contagious and is easier to treat. 

Investigators identified 10 new infections of tuberculosis among students at George Bush High School (pictured) in Fort Bend County, Texas, which is near Houston.

Typical symptoms include a persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks, weight loss; night sweats, fever, tiredness and fatigue and loss of appetite.

TB bug is usually spread by close and prolonged contact with someone who is coughing and sneezing.

The disease mainly affects the lungs.

However, it can affect any part of the body, including the glands, bones, and nervous system. 

If someone has the symptomless latent tuberculosis it can progress into an active disease, which can be deadly. 

Cases of tuberculosis have been on the rise in the United States in recent years as progress stalls in eliminating the disease. 

There was a total of 9,557 cases reported in 2015, representing a 1.6 percent increase from the previous year.  

Despite the recent diagnoses, public health officials said on Wednesday that the campus outbreak has now been contained.

‘This is good news, that all the testing identified no more active cases of TB,’ Dr. Kaye Reynolds at the Fort Bend County Health and Human Services Department told the Houston Chronicle.

‘It’s really good that the investigation has identified people who now will be cured and that the clustering won’t start another outbreak.’ 

The school will continue to be monitored to track down the 66 people who were potentially exposed but not enrolled at the school who still need to be tested. 

Roughly 560 total people were screened for the disease – and screening was required for enrollment in fall classes. Anyone who was not tested either graduated, moved to another school or dropped out. 

Two infectious disease doctors in Houston said the numbers suggest a ‘significant clustering’. 

They were particularly concerned about the original four cases of the active disease and less so of the 20 inactive cases identified as some may have been carrying it for many more years, and some might have caught it from the four contagious patients. 

The outbreak was first revealed in mid-June when health officials called on more than 600 people at the high school to be tested. 

That initial round of testing identified 10 infections, and the second round on August 3 identified 10 more. That round was required for enrollment because only about a third of the individuals who were exposed came the first time. 

The disease declined in the United States during most of the 20th century. It has since had two minor increases, first in the 1980’s and again in recent years. 

Infections primarily attack the lungs but can impact other organs. Most cases don’t show symptoms and are not contagious. 

There is no vaccine but it is treated with antibiotics over a period lasting between nine months and two years. 

‘It’s not an easy disease to treat, which is why we need to close the loop and finish out the investigation involving those not returning to George Bush,’ Dr. Reynolds told the Chronicle. 

‘But we’ll get to them. We have to.’   

 

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