Las Vegas Review-Journal (11.13.2013)
The Las Vegas Review Journal recently reported that Clark County, Nev., public health officials recommended screening for students and teachers potentially exposed to TB at Coronado High School, just weeks after the Clark County School District dropped required TB screening for all employees. The previous policy, which applied to all 39,000 district employees, called for all new employees to have a TB test and existing employees to repeat TB screening every five years. The district paid for the tests, which cost between $10 and $20 each.
School district spokesperson Melinda Malone stated that the school board voted on October 10 to eliminate mandatory testing based on the health district’s advice. Health district spokesperson Jennifer Sizemore noted that mandatory TB screening for school employees was not cost effective because it identified few active TB cases. Although screening identified some latent TB cases, Sizemore explained that only people who were actively sick with TB could transmit the infection.
Health district investigators arrived at Coronado High School November 20 to determine which of the school’s students and staff had “close and prolonged contact” with the TB-infected individual and should have TB screening. Although health district officials have not identified the TB-infected individual, students surmised that it was a student who was visibly ill and had missed school for over three weeks. Students who shared classes with the individual had received letters advising them to have free TB testing, which was available at Coronado High School from November 19–21. Others who did not receive a notification also chose to have private TB testing.
The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health stated that Nevada, one of the 20 states with the highest TB incidence, reported approximately 100 new diagnoses each year. More than 80 percent of Nevada’s TB cases occurred in Clark County.