Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2014

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Case of tuberculosis confirmed at Liberty High School

The Southern Nevada Health District confirmed an active case of tuberculosis at Liberty High School on Friday.

Clark County School District officials sent electronic ParentLink messages and letters home this afternoon to the families of more than 2,300 students and 100 staff members at the Henderson high school.

The messages, from acting Principal Christopher Hermes, indicated that an “individual at Liberty High School was diagnosed with an active case of pulmonary tuberculosis.” School District officials would not disclose the individual’s identity or whether he or she was a student or staff member, citing privacy issues.

It’s also unknown whether the new Liberty case is connected to one active case and 14 inactive cases of tuberculosis confirmed last month at nearby Coronado High School. The two Henderson schools are located about 4 miles away from each other.

Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease that typically attacks the lungs and can be lethal. Tuberculosis is transmitted through the air, when someone with the contagious disease sneezes or coughs near a healthy person.

The School District is working closely with the Health District’s TB Treatment and Control staff to complete its investigation. Currently, the Health District is identifying students and staff who may have come into contact with the individual who has TB.

The Health District will notify students and staff who may have been exposed to TB. State law requires these students and staff be tested for TB before they can return to campus.

“It’s important for this testing to occur to keep everyone well,” Hermes said in the letter.

The Health District will offer free tests to affected students on campus at a future date, to be determined, school officials said. Parents must sign a consent form for their children to be tested.

Parents of all Liberty students are encouraged to see a physician if they feel it is necessary. The mandatory testing does not have to be done at school; a note clearing a student of TB from a family physician or other medical provider will suffice.

The results of those tuberculosis tests will take one to two weeks. Until a student or staff member is confirmed with an active case of tuberculosis, he or she will be allowed on school campuses.

Tuberculosis, with symptoms that may remain dormant for a period of time, can be fatal if not properly treated. The Centers for Disease Control reported 569 deaths from TB nationwide in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available. The Health District sees 80 to 100 cases per year in Southern Nevada.

For more information, Coronado students, parents and staff are urged to contact the Health District’s tuberculosis clinic at 702-759-0707 on Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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