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Tuberculosis cases discovered in schools and hospitals

On Feb. 10, the Southern Nevada Health District announced that 14 people at Coronado High School in Henderson, NV, had tested positive for tuberculosis. KVVU Fox 5 reports that the testing was performed at the suburban Las Vegas high school after a case of tuberculosis was diagnosed in someone from the school in Nov. 2013. This was the second round of testing.

Tuberculosis testing at a Denver high school in 2011
CDC public domain

All 14 patients are described as having latent tuberculosis. This form of the disease will create a positive test but 90 percent of those with the condition will never become ill and they are not contagious.

This is just the latest in a series of tuberculosis cases found in schools and healthcare setting across the U.S.

On Feb. 6, the Montgomery County, MD, Department of Health and Human Services notified staff, parents and students at Watkins Mill High School that a case of active tuberculosis had been diagnosed at the school. The agency is arranging for a testing program in March, since testing is recommended 8 to 10 weeks after exposure.

WJBK Fox 2 is continuing to cover the story of a Detroit health care worker who was diagnosed with tuberculosis in Dec. 2013. He had been in contact with over 500 patients receiving dental care at four different Detroit hospitals. All of the patient's contacts have been notified and testing offered.

Central Maine Community College, in Auburn, ME, was the site of a tuberculosis testing clinic on Jan. 27, reports WMTW 8. The testing was organized after someone at the school tested positive for the disease earlier in the month. The patient was infected in the fall of 2013 but not diagnosed until January.

A former student at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, SC, received a confirmed tuberculosis diagnosis, The Post and Courier reported on Jan. 15. The student has not been in school since Nov. 2013. As of the date of the story, the teen patient was hospitalized at Medical University Hospital. The school notified 137 students that they believe had close contact with the patient and urged parents to get their child tested.

In the most unusual recent case, an elephant at the Oregon Zoo in Portland has tested positive for tuberculosis. KOIN reports that it is the second elephant at the zoo to be diagnosed with latent tuberculosis. Packy the elephant is reported to be responding poorly to treatment.

KOIN is also reporting that some zoo employees have also been diagnosed with latent tuberculosis. The zoo’s elephant curator, Bob Lee, told the station that the illness can travel from humans to animals or from animals to humans. The affected employees had prolonged contact with the first elephant to become ill, Rama. Zookeepers are now wearing masks until both elephants are declared to be no longer infectious.

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