Washington Post (06.20.2013)
On June 20, Fairfax County, Va., officials announced an investigation of three confirmed TB cases at Springfield’s Lee High School. The school system sent letters telling of the three confirmed cases and offering free medical screening to 1,900 Lee High School families. The health department also sent 430 letters to staff members and students’ families identified by the department as being at an increased risk of exposure.
In June, health officials diagnosed two Lee High School students with TB following the discovery of the first case in December 2012. County Health Director Gloria Addo-Ayensu stated that since Lee High School had experienced three cases within six months, the department conducted a wide-ranging investigation, which could identify more staff and students with previously undiagnosed TB. Addo-Ayensu noted that Fairfax County identified approximately 90 cases in 2012.
The Virginia Health Department identified 98 cases in the county in 2008, but the county’s TB infection rate has declined since then. Addo-Ayensu explained that the county’s diverse population consisted of international families, and most of the county’s TB cases have originated abroad. The Virginia State Health Department reported approximately 235 cases statewide in 2012; fewer than 30 cases involved people age 24 or younger. In 2012, the United States reported fewer than 10,000 TB cases.
The county provided TB tests for the Lee High community on June 21 at the school gym, and will do so again early in the week of June 24–28. Addo-Ayensu declared that most of the county’s TB cases did not involve TB’s more dangerous, antibiotic-resistant strains and, thus, were treatable.