Case of tuberculosis involving Marion County student reported

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - A suspected case of tuberculosis involving a Marion County student was reported to the Florida Department of Health, according to a press release Thursday.

According to the FDH in Marion County, the North Marion High School student also took classes on the North Marion Middle School campus this summer.

"This student was only in one computer class over the summer, so that narrows that scope significantly.  But we had to expand the circle because that student was showing symptoms prior to school letting out back in June," said Marion County Schools spokesman Kevin Christian.

The student is undergoing TB drug therapy and is in isolation, according to the Health Department.

"This is not a situation to ignore.  But at the same time, it's not a situation to panic for," said Christian.

The case came to the department's attention on Monday. Health Department personnel visited the student and family members that same day. The school was also contacted.

Students, faculty, staff and community members who may have been exposed are being notified and testing of those affected will begin as soon as possible, according to the Health Department.

"Marion County Public Schools and the Department of Health are working together to ensure the health and safety of all students, employees, and members of the student's community," said Amy Reilly, senior community health nurse supervisor at the Florida Department of Health in Marion County.

According to the Health Department's press release, TB is a disease that usually infects the lungs, but can affect other parts of the body, causing serious illness. It is spread when an infected person coughs, talks, sings or sneezes untreated TB germs into the air. Persons who breathe in the germs can become infected.

Typically, only persons who have had very close, day-to-day contact with the infected person run the risk of contracting the disease.

TB is less contagious than measles, mumps, chicken pox and influenza. Even if a person is infected, the bacteria may remain dormant and not contagious to others.

"This is not a decon situation.  You don't come in and decontaminate everything that you come in contact with.  This germ doesn't even live on the surface of anything --  a desk, a counter, whatever the case may be -- it doesn't live there.  It lives within somebody and is spread through the air," said Christian.

Students, parents and employees of North Marion High School with additional questions may call the Florida Department of Health in Marion County at 352-629-0137, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information about TB:   www.cdc.gov/tb