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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
TEXAS: TB Concerns Spread Quickly
Sherry Jacobson
October 7, 2011
Dallas Morning News (10.06.11) - Friday, October 07, 2011

In the past three weeks, nearly 200 people have been found to have latent TB following the investigation of an Ennis High School teacher's active TB infection. The state health department notified the school district of the teacher's TB diagnosis on Aug. 19.

Ennis, which is 40 miles south of Dallas in Ellis County, does not have a city or county health department. The state health department took charge, enlisting health workers from Dallas, Tarrant, and other nearby counties. Four school district nurses also are helping.

"This is a large investigation, probably one of the largest we've been involved in," said Dr. James Zoretic, director of the state health department's regional office in Arlington.

"We started with the students who actually had the teacher," said David Averett, principal of Ennis High. "We pulled all the student lists for [the teacher's] classes back to the fall of 2010." Of 230 students and 15 faculty members offered testing Sept. 14-16, 80 people were found to be positive for TB exposure, and five showed signs of active TB on chest X-rays. A second phase of testing followed.

"As expected, we've seen a much lower rate of positives in the second phase of testing as we move further out from the original patient," said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Of the 1,040 skin tests administered as of Wednesday, 197 were found to be positive. All those with positive skin tests undergo a follow-up chest X-ray on a portable machine and are encouraged to seek treatment. At least 10 people are suspected of having progressed to active TB, including three people in one household.