County calls for proactive TB testing after Indio student tests positive

County works with Indio High School to get TB exposed students tested

INDIO, Calif. - Ruby Gamboa's younger brother is a senior at Indio High School. Learning another student suffers from Tuberculosis makes her uneasy.

"It's contagious, so I would be scared of it," said Gamboa.

The Riverside County Department of Health officials first alerted the school about the case November 20 and began working closely with the district. it took five days to send out notices informing every parent and to contact specific students who might have been exposed to the illness.

"We're looking at individuals who shared air with the individual for an ongoing basis, for example, classmates," said Director for Disease Control, Barbara Cole.

The county health department ecourages only those students get screened for TB and it will hold a closed clinic for them to get tested.

"We really recommend their student gets tested to confirm they're fine," said Cole. "They can get tested on site or by their own healthcare provider."

Some symptoms of TB include coughing up blood, pain in the chest when breathing, loss of appetite or weight loss, and fever with night sweats for more than three weeks.

Health officials said students who think they've been exposed should still attend school.

"We want to reassure that just because someone is exposed, that does not make them contagious to family members and other people," said Cole. "The tests document that everything is OK. If someone tests positive on the skin test it doesn't mean they're sick. They take an x-ray to document that."

While the student recovers at home, Indio High School Principal Rudy Ramirez said it's taking extra precautions to keep other students safe.
"I feel bad it's probably something you wouldn't want to go through that's why you would want to be aware of it."

The county health department will not release the age, grade or sex of the student for confidentiality reasons.

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