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East Stroudsbrg HS North student catches TB

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 10 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 12 2012 05:28:01 PM CDT

Tuberculosis in East Stroudsburg Area School District

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. -

A case of tuberculosis hits a high school in the Poconos.  Now dozens of students and staff are being tested for the infection.

The East Stroudsburg Area School District was notified by the state Department of Health this week, a student from North High School has Tuberculosis.

"It's low risk at this point, and we're taking every precaution," said Superintendent Sharon Laverdure.

Tuberculosis is a rare, airborne disease.  In 2010 there were just 238 cases of the contagious infection state wide. 

Laverdure tells us those most at risk had close or prolonged contact with the sick student.

"It was classrooms, and school bus primarily."

Letters were sent home Thursday to less than a quarter of the North Campus's 1,400 students letting them know health officials will be at the high school next week to do skin tests for the contagious disease.

"It's spread by air," explained Director of Infectious Diseases at Pocono Medical Center, Dr. Susheer Gandotra.  "It can be spread by coughing, sneezing, breathing, singing."

Gandotra says tuberculosis can attack the lungs, brain, spine and kidney's.

"Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, then it can have night sweats and fever, unintentional weight loss," said Gandotra.

In this case the bacteria is infecting the sick student's lungs.

An information session about the disease is set for Saturday at 10AM at North High School, located at 279 Timberwolf Drive.  We're told medical experts will be on hand to address any questions and concerns from parents and the public.

"We don't deal with these kinds of things everyday so it's been important for us to work together as a team to make sure the community understands what this is all about and what we need to do to ensure the safety and wellness of our children," stressed Laverdure.

Tuberculosis can be treated by taking drugs for 6 to 12 months.  It can also be fatal.

More information on tuberculosis can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/tb/ .