Durham County

First results of TB tests at Northern High School are in

How does tuberculosis (TB) spread?

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

Students and faculty at Northern High School who potentially were exposed to tuberculosis last month received some good news on Monday from the Durham County Department of Public Health.

The health department said it notified them and that no one had developed the disease.

The health department tested 223 people who may have been exposed to tuberculosis after a Northern student was diagnosed with the disease.

“We have not identified any other students or staff at Northern High School with active TB disease in this ongoing investigation,” said Durham County medical director Dr. Arlene Seña.

The health department, citing medical privacy laws, did not release information about individuals who may have been exposed to tuberculosis.

Those exposed are not completely in the clear. The bacteria that causes tuberculosis can remain in the body for a prolonged period of time without showing signs of the infection. This is called Latent TB and it could turn into active TB.

The health department will conduct another round of TB tests at Northern. Those exposed will be monitored for about eight weeks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a follow-up test about 8-10 weeks following initial exposure to tuberculosis.

“We will begin our second round of testing soon among the individuals who were potentially exposed to TB,” Seña said. “We ask for patience during the completion of this process.”

Tuberculosis is an airborne infection. It is spread from person to person by tiny droplets released into the air through coughs and sneezes.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

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