Tuberculosis confirmed at Clayton High School; 181 may have been exposed

CLAYTON, NC (WTVD) -- Students and parents at Clayton High School were notified Tuesday morning that a student at the Johnston County school has been diagnosed with tuberculosis and 181 people may have been exposed.

"The person who was diagnosed is a student," said Johnston County Schools spokesperson Crystal Roberts. "The person was sick before spring break and was diagnosed over the break."

Earlier Tuesday, the district told ABC11 that parents were notified of the diagnosis on Monday but later revised the timeline after gathering more information from the county health department and school officials.

"The (Johnston County) Health Department gave the school nurse the information (Monday) afternoon near dismissal time," Roberts explained. "Copies of the letters were distributed to all students (Tuesday) morning. The principal also sent a 'ConnectEd' message to all parents at 8 a.m. with information directly from the letter from the Health Department."

In the letters, students and staffers were notified that they were "possibly being exposed to someone with tuberculosis (TB)."

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The school system said it is "working closely with the public health staff at Johnston County Public Health Department to contact those individuals who may have been exposed and to ensure that they receive appropriate testing and treatment."

The district has identified 167 students along with 14 staff members who were at risk of tuberculosis exposure - including people in classrooms and on the school bus with the student.

TB is transmitted when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. The germs are expelled into the air, and if a nearby person breathes them in, that person can become infected with TB, the letter continued.

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Chris Richards has two children who attend Clayton High. When he spoke to ABC11 Tuesday evening he had not yet heard about the health alert.

"(I'm) amazed that it didn't get caught before, and the parents responsibility of not taking their kids to school," Richards said. "If my kid was sick with something like that, I wouldn't have them at school."
The letter stressed there is no "immediate risk of any health problems."

The school district says the 181 people potentially exposed to TB will be receiving a second notification and will be screened for the disease at the school as a precautionary measure.

Anyone with questions or concerns regarding this exposure can contact the TB Program at Johnston County Public Health Department at (919) 989-5200 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
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