TB tests expanded at Indio High School after 45 students test positive for exposure

"Families do not need to be tested. We are not recommending that. We are not recommending the rest of the community be tested."

INDIO, Calif. - Tuberculosis tests have been expanded to the entire student body and staff at Indio High School after results of an initial screening were higher than expected, according to public health officials.

CDC: Basic TB facts

When to call a doctor

On Monday, 131 students were tested for the illness after a student was diagnosed with active tuberculosis recently.  The tests were reviewed on Thursday and 45 students tested positive for possible exposure to the illness. Someone who is exposed does not necessarily have active tuberculosis, a condition that must be confirmed with more tests, officials said.

On Thursday, follow up X-rays identified five students who need further examination. Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser ordered the testing be expanded to the entire student body and staff. Kaiser emphasized that the risk of infection remains low, but that the action is being taken strictly out of precaution.

Public health officials held a news conference at Noon on Thursday at  the Coachella Valley Association of Governments off of Fred Waring Drive in Palm Desert to provide more information on the developing scenario.

Health and school officials have scheduled a testing clinic for approximately 1,800 students and staff on Friday at Indio High School that will begin at 7:30 a.m. and last throughout the day

Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser wants everyone at the school to get tested - out of precaution, not panic. 

"Families do not need to be tested. We are not recommending that. We are not recommending the rest of the community be tested," Dr. Kaiser said. 

All Indio High School students will get tested for free. Dr. Kaiser said if people want family members tested and don't have coverage or access to insurance, the county will pay for it.

For that information, call Riverside County Disease Control at 951-358-5107.

Important details for parents and students of Indio High School:

  • Testing will begin Friday at Indio H.S. starting at 7:30 a.m. and last throughout the day
  • All sports and after-school activities will go on as planned (Shadow Hills has canceled its game that was scheduled at Indio H.S. Thursday night due to an unrelated issue)
  • Parents don't have to worry about siblings of Indio H.S. students who go to different schools because they didn't have direct contact to the illness
  • Results of Friday's examination expected back Monday, students will have to return to school Monday even though regular class will be out for Christmas break

CDC Facts about TB:

  • TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

TB is NOT spread by:

  • shaking someone's hand
  • sharing food or drink
  • touching bed linens or toilet seats
  • sharing toothbrushes
  • kissing

Symptoms of TB:

  • a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • pain in the chest
  • coughing up blood or sputum
  • weakness or fatigue
  • weight loss
  • no appetite
  • chills
  • fever
  • sweating at night

Prevention Methods:

  • Don't spend long periods of time in stuffy, enclosed rooms with anyone who has active TB until that person has been treated for at least two weeks
  • Use protective measures such as face masks if you work in a facility that cares for people who have untreated TB
  • If you live with someone who has active TB, help and encourage the person to follow treatment instructions

Can the TB Vaccine Help?:

  • TB Vaccine (Bacille Calmette-Guerin, or BCG) is used in many countries to prevent TB but the vaccination is almost never used in the U.S. because the risk is low, the vaccine is not effective in adults who receive it, and the vaccine may cause a skin test to indicate a TB infection even if a person isn't infected with the illness

For more information, call Jose Arballo Jr., senior public information specialist for the Riverside County Health Department, at (951) 712-3705.

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