On June 5, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued a press release concerning its ongoing investigation of a TB outbreak at a Greenwood County elementary school. DHEC stated that apparently nine children and two adults tested positive for the disease; the adults were diagnosed as infectious but the children were not.
The outbreak occurred in an upstate community called Ninety Six. A private physician notified DHEC in March that an adult at the Ninety Six Primary School had active TB. As of June 5, DHEC had skin-tested 536 persons, including 487 students. Ten staff members and 52 students tested positive. Health officials took X-rays to identify TB-associated lung damage; they found visible TB indications in nine students and one adult.
DHEC is offering free testing and drug treatment to the patients. TB drug treatment requires six to nine months, with treatment length being shorter for patients with a latent TB infection. CDC has stated that TB testing and treatment is more difficult for children than for adult patients.
On June 4, the Associated Press (AP) reported that the initial person diagnosed with TB was no longer cooperating with authorities. That patient has been quarantined. AP also reported that DHEC fired several employees in May for not following up immediately on the original March TB report.