Killeen ISD student tests positive for tuberculosis

Posted at 1:04 PM, May 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-07 00:00:49-04

The Bell County Public Health District confirmed a student at the Killeen Independent School District has tested positive for tuberculosis.

Last week, the district sent out an email notifying parents at four middle schools that a substitute teacher tested positive for TB and encouraged them to get their children tested.

Health officials don't know how this student was exposed to the disease or if this case has any relation to the one involving the substitute teacher.

However, even if they did, officials said privacy laws dictate only the family would know, and the test results would not be released to the school district.

On Thursday, a family member of a Killeen student posted on Facebook that his granddaughter tested positive for tuberculosis, but neither the school district nor county health officials would confirm that.

On Friday morning, the health district told News Channel 25 there was one student who had a positive skin test for TB, but they would not say whether that child attended one of the four middle schools an infected substitute teacher worked at.  

On Friday night, health officials went further, sending out some more facts on tuberculosis. They included that the county health district investigates multiple positive TB tests every day.

They said there is a distinction between a TB infection and an active TB case. An infection means that person has been exposed to TB bacteria some time in his or her life -- and it does not have to be recently. It is contagious, but it's not easy to catch. The bacteria can be inactive and not show any symptoms, but it still needs to be treated for the patient's protection.

An active TB case is contagious, though, and has symptoms like coughing, chest pains, fever, sweats and loss of appetite. It also does not have to be a recent exposure. While it's contagious, it's not easy to catch.

An untreated TB infection can turn into active TB, so health officials are still urging that select students in the four affected Killeen ISD middle schools get tested by their doctor. If they don't have insurance, they can go to the Bell County Public Health District.

The Bell County Public Health District continues to investigate at this time.

Killeen ISD released the following statement Friday afternoon: "The Bell County Health District has not notified Killeen ISD about any active TB cases or any other public health concerns. Specifically, the Bell County Health District did not notify Killeen ISD about a student having a positive skin test. The district remains committed to ensuring the well being of our students and staff."

News Channel 25's Taylor Alanis and Bruce Gietzen contributed to this story.

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