Students tested for TB in CA and DC schools

High school students in Fountain Valley, CA, underwent mandatory testing after a student was identified with active tuberculosis. Students at a Washington, DC, elementary school also were undergoing testing after a teacher was reported having active disease.

After 133 students and teachers were recently tested at the Fountain Valley High School campus, two students tested positive with active disease, health officials reported. Although uncertain that the two cases were linked to the female student diagnosed with a highly contagious case of TB in January, school officials expanded testing to the entire 2,600 student body.

After a teacher’s aide at a Washington, DC, elementary school tested positive for TB in late March, city health officials advised students and staff who had contact with the woman to be tested for the disease. The aide had worked at the school four months before she sought care. Although saliva tests were positive for TB and the woman had a cavity in her lung, the case has not yet been confirmed by tissue culture.

In response to a 36% increase in TB cases in the district last year, officials from the district, Maryland, and Virginia signed a regional tuberculosis control agreement, the area’s first pact aimed at better control of the disease, which the district Mayor Marion Barry called "a serious concern."

A top priority of the pact is increased tracking of TB cases, which has suffered under recent budget cuts.

In another effort to screen students for TB, officials at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles reported that testing needles may have been used more than once among the 120 students and staff. "Every effort is now being made to verify whether or not this possibility occurred," school officials report.

Although the chance of transmission of an infectious disease in this instance is remote, the Law School felt obligated to disclose the problem to its community and asked students to voluntarily take a blood test to verify any transmission.

Health experts, including Dr. Paul Holtom, an infectious disease specialist at County USC Medical Center, have advised the Law School that the probability of transmission under these circumstances is extremely low.