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Student Out With TB; 200 to Be Tested

TIMES STAFF WRITER

About 200 Fountain Valley High School students will undergo testing for tuberculosis next week after a student was diagnosed with the contagious disease.

County health officials ordered testing at the high school next Tuesday for students who had shared classes with the girl last semester. Her teachers have been tested, and the results were negative.

Officials notified the school Jan. 27 that the girl had an active case of tuberculosis. She had been coughing for about three months and received treatment from a family doctor, said Roberta Maxwell, manager of the county’s tuberculosis program. A chest X-ray later revealed she had the disease and her doctor contacted health officials. The student has not been on campus since the diagnosis and no details about her were released.

All 2,600 students at the high school and their parents were notified Wednesday that they also could choose to be tested for tuberculosis, but tests for the 200 classmates are mandatory. The test consists of placing a solution under the skin of the forearm. A bump will form in the area within 48 hours if TB is present.

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Officials will return Thursday to read the results. Students who test positive can receive a chest X-ray on campus.

If any of the close-contact students are diagnosed with tuberculosis, the health department will interview those students and expand the mandatory testing.

Officials said, however, that the discovery of one infected student does not warrant alarm. “We didn’t want people to be hysterical,” said Diana Carey, Fountain Valley High School assistant principal.

In 1995, 107 students from Bolsa Grande High School in Garden Grove and about 100 from Irvine Valley College were tested after two students were diagnosed with TB.

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In 1993, all 1,300 students, teachers and administrators at La Quinta High School in Westminster were tested, and 17 were diagnosed with active cases of TB.

Health officials, administrators and teachers at Fountain Valley High School met last week and prepared a brief classroom lesson for students on tuberculosis. Students took information home, and mailings were sent to parents about the disease and testing in Spanish and Vietnamese as well as English.

Administrators at the school describe reaction to testing as calm.

“We have received five calls from parents today, and that’s been the extent of it,” Carey said.

Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that attack the lungs. The bacteria are typically spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms of TB include chronic coughing, weight loss, fever, night sweats and coughing up blood. The illness can be treated with antibiotics.


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