Miller County Health Department conducting important follow-up TB tests May 8 at Miller County High School
COLQUITT, Ga. – On May 8, public health officials will return to Miller County High School to conduct follow-up skin tests for approximately 500 individuals who may have been exposed to tuberculosis. TB does not always show up in the system immediately, which is the reason this round of testing is being administered now.
“It is extremely important for everyone who was tested in the initial round of tests held in April to return for retesting,” said Miller County Health Department Interim County Nurse Manager Alida Ward. “We will be doing the skin test on May 8 and a nurse will review the results two days later on May 10.”
She noted some students may have been tested at the Miller County Health Department rather than at the high school during the earlier round of testing in April.
“They will need to pick up forms from the health department and bring them to the school, or they will need to get their second round of tests done at the health department,” Ward said. “We will need the forms to test them at the school.”
The TB tests are being performed at no cost, Ward said.
“If the skin test outcome is abnormal, we will notify the patient and/or family and arrange for additional evaluation, including a chest x-ray,” she said.
Less than 20 individuals have been referred for additional evaluation out of those tested to date, said Dr. Charles Ruis, the health director of Southwest Health District.
“TB is an infectious disease that can be spread from person to person through the air. It usually attacks the lungs, but it also can attack other parts of the body,” Ruis said. “It is not easy to get TB. Repeated exposure over a long period to a person who is contagious is usually required to contract the disease.”
Ninety to 95 percent of people who become infected with tuberculosis will never have major illness and will never be contagious, he said.
“The problem is that we have no way of knowing who will fall into the five to 10 percent of people who will, in fact, progress on to active tuberculosis, which usually is very contagious,” Ruis said. “Therefore, we recommend TB prophylaxis medicine for all whose skin test is read as positive.”
Symptoms of active TB include persistent cough, fever, night sweats and unexplained weight loss. Additional information on TB can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/TB/.
For more information, contact the Miller County Health Department at 229-758-3344.