Some Clayton High School students may have been exposed to tuberculosis, parents warned

The administration of a Tuberculin Skin Test.
The administration of a Tuberculin Skin Test.

A Clayton High School student has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, according to the Johnston County school system.

School officials learned Monday of the possible exposure to other students, said Johnston schools spokeswoman Tracey Peedin Jones.

Clayton High School principal Bennett Jones sent a digital public health notice to parents saying a student may have been exposed to tuberculosis — the bacteria commonly referred to as TB.

Students at the school were sent home Monday afternoon with printed letters, Peedin Jones said. Parents were asked to sign a permission slip authorizing the school to perform TB tests on their children if necessary.

Another letter was given to students who had attended "classes that may have been in closer contact" with the infected person, Peedin Jones said.

The public health notice from the principal started off with an emphatic, bold-lettered statement: “First, this is NOT an emergency."

“This exposure is likely to have affected a very small number of individuals, and we are working closely with the public health staff at Johnston County Public Health Department to contact those individuals who may have been exposed,” the notice read.

Animated video demonstrating the transmission and pathogenesis of tuberculosis (TB).

Some parents may be contacted by the school district if public health officials determine their child is at risk. The vast majority of students will likely not be contacted and will not need to be tested for TB, the principal said.

“A relatively small number of persons are likely to have been exposed,” the notice said. “No one is at immediate risk of any health problems.”

TB is an airborne disease that can be spread when an infected person coughs, speaks or even sings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

After a person breathes in the infection, the bacteria can begin to growth in the lungs.

TB symptoms include a cough extracting blood and phlegm from deep within the lungs into the mouth, chest pain, weakness, weight loss, lack of appetite, chills, fever and night sweats.

The standard method for determining TB infection is a skin test. Within 48 to 72 hours, the skin around the injection site elevates. Positive and negative readings of the test result from amount and size of localized swelling at the injection site.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks