Tuberculosis exposure may have occurred at Southport High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Some students and staff may have come into contact with the debilitating disease. Indiana school principal Barbara Brouwer issued an automated alert to families within the district on Wednesday evening.
The tuberculosis (TB) notice from the Southport High School principal said a “group” of students and staff had been exposed, adding that the affected individuals have been contacted by Indianapolis school officials.
A TB clinic to test students who may have been exposed has reportedly been arranged in Indianapolis. The tuberculosis clinic will reportedly take place at Southport High School on Tuesday. The number of teachers and students in Indiana who may have been exposed in the Indiana tuberculosis outbreak has not yet been released.
Symptoms of tuberculosis include fever, night sweats, unintentional weight loss, and a cough that lasts several weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tuberculosis can spread both through the air and from person to person. TB typically affects the lungs, but it can negatively impact other parts of the body as well. Tuberculosis is fatal if untreated.
According to the CDC, TB can be treated with several different medications, which must be taken for up to nine months. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reportedly approved 10 drugs for treating tuberculosis. It is important for those with TB to finish the prescribed medication. Bacille Calmette-Guérin, a TB vaccine which is not reportedly widely used in the United States, is routinely prescribed to children and infants in nations where tuberculosis outbreaks are still common. The CDC says that the Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccine “should only be considered” for use in the United States for “very select people” who meet a specific criteria.
During the 1900s, tuberculosis cases reportedly killed one in every seven patients exposed to the disease in both American and Europe, according to CDC statistics. During the 1940s, tuberculosis drugs still used in treatment today were discovered, causing the TB death toll to decline. In the 1970s and early 1980s, tuberculosis reportedly spiked in the United States once again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also noted that TB cases have been “on the decline” in America since 1993. Currently, TB cases in the United States are commonly found among the homeless and prison populations.
How students at the Southport High School in Indiana became exposed to tuberculosis has not yet been released.