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Tuberculosis detected at Northside ISD high schools

This person is currently off campus and in stable condition.

SAN ANTONIO — A person connected to Brandeis High School tested positive for tuberculosis and some students and staff may have been exposed. Officials also noted that there is a 'common link' involving Clark High School as well. 

The Metropolitan Health District told KENS 5 around 100 individuals between both schools will be tested on Monday. The district will be at Brandies High School around 9 a.m. and at Clark High School in the afternoon. The health district has already sent out letters to the individual who may have been exposed. 

On Friday, a letter was sent to O'Connor High School parents notifying them of a potential TB exposure as well.

Brandeis Principal Dr. Geri Berger also sent a letter to parents saying that Northside Independent School District and the high schools were notified by the Metro Health of the case.

The letter to parents says this person is not on the campus and is in stable condition. It also says they will not return to school until they are cleared.

"Metro Health is working to identify students and staff who may have been potentially exposed. These individuals will be screened as a precautionary measure," it says.

The health district will collect blood from those individuals who were potentially exposed on Monday and should have results around 48 hours later. 

Tuberculosis is an illness caused by bacteria resulting in infection that typically affects the lungs. Information from the American Pulmonary Association states, “It is not easy to contract an infection of tuberculosis.” 

On Thursday, health district Health Program Manager Tommy Camden told KENS 5 the disease is far more difficult to catch when compared to COVID-19 or Influenza. 

"The criteria basically is around 8 hours a week of exposure. A lot of times going into school situations we are looking at two class room periods or more," Camden. "The rest of the school doesn't need to be concerned unless they've been contacted."

These graphics are helpful in explaining how it is and isn't spread. Camden said to remember it requires extended exposure and can't be caught by just passing a person in the hall.

Credit: Clipbrowser
Credit: Clipbrowser

Camden said screened individuals would also need to do a follow-up test in 10 weeks. He said the test detects an "immune response" and sometimes individuals contract the disease but take longer to present that response. 

If a person at the school tests positive, the health district will need to expand the screening process. People who test positive will be able to access a city clinic for chest x-rays or other tests. 

While tuberculosis can be dangerous, Camden said antibiotic drugs can almost always prevent an individual from getting worse. He said anyone who tests positive should get treatment as soon as possible. 

NISD held a community informational meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Brandeis High School Auditorium to explain next steps to parents and staff. 

For more information, contact the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District Chest Clinic at (210) 207-8823.

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