Students, staff being tested for TB

May 5, 2008 12:30:40 PM PDT
Harris County health officials were at Galena Park High School this morning, testing hundreds of students and staff for tuberculosis. The testing comes after a student was diagnosed with the disease last month.District spokesman Craig Eichhorn confirmed that testing has begun and it is being held inside the auditorium. Beyond that, the Harris County Health department is not releasing any other details.

"The first I heard it, it was on TV this morning," said grandparent Anita Corpus.

Some parents were simply unaware, but most we spoke with say they did know that at least 268 students and staff at Galena Park High School would be tested today for tuberculosis.

"What's it like in school right now? Are people talking about this?" we asked.

"Yes, everybody is talking about this," answered student Lamar Kelly. "When they found out that it was airborne, everybody got nervous."

One student was diagnosed with TB last month and now 268 have been identified as at risk for contracting the disease based on their proximity and contact with the infected teen.

"I don't think it's going to be that. You are going to have that impact on the rest of the students," said parent Marlon Guillen

The skin tests are being conducted in the school's auditorium. Health officials delayed the test because of last week's TAKS testing. Parents are understandably concerned.

"I am concerned because my grandson goes to this school and then he comes to my house," said Corpus. "I don't want to catch that and it's a good that they are going to do this."

"It's contagious so I'm scared, like I might get it from my friend or something," said student Flora Ramirez.

The district sent out letters to those students who would be tested and for those who wouldn't. Some parents, though, have already taken their kids to the family's physician just as a precaution.

"Yes sir, he got tested. I got pretty scared and everything is being taken care of," said concerned parent Martin Valdez.

There was no word on how many people were tested today. Results on the tests will be determined in two days.

TB is a bacterial disease affecting the lungs. The symptoms include fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss and coughing. Some people can carry the disease for years before showing any symptoms.

It's generally an airborne disease transferred among people through sneezing, coughing or speaking. Breathing in the air of an infected person can cause it to spread.

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