Washington Post (07.22.2013)
Fairfax County, Va., public health officials will offer free TB screening beginning August 3 to all 1,400 faculty, staff, and students of Lee High School, in response to public concern regarding recently diagnosed TB cases. Last spring, three Lee High students tested positive for active TB. In June, the Fairfax County Health Department asked 400 students and 30 staff members who had been in close contact with the TB-infected students to undergo TB testing. Approximately one week later, the health department expanded testing to 60 additional possible contacts from other Fairfax County schools. The screening identified an undisclosed number of additional latent TB cases—a noncontagious form of the bacterial infection—that could progress to active TB if left untreated. The department has tested close to 300 people since the outbreak.
Typically, approximately 1 percent of US-born residents would test positive for latent TB; approximately 5 percent of the recently tested US-born Lee High group received a positive test result, according to Fairfax County Health Director Gloria Addo-Ayensu. Spokesperson Glen Barbour stated that incidence among the foreign-born Lee High group tested for TB was comparable to the worldwide TB rate, which ranged from 5 to 33 percent. Jane Moore, director of TB control and prevention for the Virginia Department of Health, reported that Virginia health departments investigate 5–10 TB cases in schools annually. One-third of Virginia’s TB cases in 2012 occurred in Fairfax County. Northern Virginia, home to a diverse immigrant population and many US residents who work internationally, accounted for more than half of all Virginia TB cases.
The Fairfax County Health Department scheduled the August 3 testing for all Lee High students, staff, and faculty to alleviate community concern and to identify all TB cases before school reconvened on September 3.