Active TB Case Reported at California High School

tuberculosis - TB
AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

“Solano County is warning people about an active case of tuberculosis [TB] on the campus of Armijo High School” in Fairfield, California, KOVR TV in Sacramento reported in its February 16 evening newscast.

“We don’t know exactly when or where the person was infected,” Dr. Michael Stacey, director of public health for Solano County, said of the TB case in a press conference.

“Dr. Michael Stacey says TB is a serious but treatable disease that is spread through the air… Those who have been in close contact with the patient will have to get a blood test to determine if they carry the disease,” KROV reported.

“We’ll be testing over 200 people,” Stacey said at the press conference.

The Solano County Public Health Department is not saying whether the case of active TB was diagnosed in a student, faculty member, or staff member.

California becomes the latest state to report an active case of TB at a high school or middle school.

Over the past three months, cases of active TB have been reported at a high school in Nebraska, a middle school in South Carolina, and two schools in Minnesota — one a high school the other a middle school.

All four other cases of active TB have been reported in schools with a high percentage of refugees or students participating in English-Language Learner (ELL) programs, sometimes referred to as ESL or ELA programs.

“Armijo High School and Solano County Public Health are working together to respond to a case of Pulmonary Tuberculosis,” Eric Tretten, principal of Armijo High School, wrote in a February 16 letter posted on the school’s website.

Solano County Public Health, and or school, took immediate action to mitigate the risk to students and staff. We want to assure everyone that there is ongoing risk to our school community.

“It has come to our attention that a person associated with Armijo High School has recently been identified as active tuberculosis (TB),” a second letter dated February 16 on Solano County Public Health letterhead and signed by both high school principal Tretten and Solano County Public Health Director Stacey began.

A person with active TB disease can spread TB germs through the air to those who frequently share the same air. Solano County Public Health, the administration from Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, and Armijo High School are working together to identify students and staff who have been potentially exposed, as well as those who have not been exposed.

We will notify you by letter within one week to let you know whether or not your child needs to be tested for exposure to the TB germ.

“We understand that this notification may cause concern and questions,” the second letter continued:

We are working quickly and thoroughly to gather accurate information. There will be an informational meeting, with question and answer periods, for students, parents, school staff and the public. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 21 at 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm at Armijo High School Gymnasium at 824 Washington Street in Fairfield.

Both letters were posted on the school’s website in English and Spanish.

The school offers “open enrollment” English Language Acquisition (ELA) classes “(previously known as ESL-English as a Second Language)” for “students who want to improve their language skills in English.” There are four levels of classes taught: “ELA Beginning Low, Beginning High, Intermediate Low, and Intermediate High.” Five ELA teachers are on the staff of Armijo High School.

“The patient is now under quarantine… Meanwhile, health officials want to identify anyone else who may have been exposed to the contagious disease,” KOVR reported.

Parents at Armijo High School expressed concern over the health risks faced by their children who attend the school.

“It’s pretty scary,” one parent said.

“Parents and students at Armijo High School are uneasy knowing that someone on campus has been diagnosed with active TB, a potentially life threatening contagious disease,” KOVR reported. “I can’t even really wrap my head around it right now. I’m just concerned about my daughter and what we need to do for her,” one mother of a student at Armijo High School said.

“It’s quite concerning for me as a parent,” one father said.

“The patient is not being identified but they are under isolation and no longer a public threat. Now, the county’s public health office is trying to track do anyone who may have been exposed within the last 3 months,” KROV reported.

“What we’re doing in this case is identifying all of those close contacts. At this point, we don’t really know if any transmission or infection occurred. That’s what we’re going to figure out,” Solano County Public Health’s Stacy said.

“Hopefully we can relieve any type of anxiety over this,” the Principal Tretten of Armijo High School told KROV.


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