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Public Heath Answers Questions on TB Case
updated: Apr 11, 2014, 1:58 PM

By the Dedicated Staff of edhat.com

Charity Thoman, MD, MPH, Health Officer for the Public Health Department and John Davis, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction with the Santa Maria Joint Union School District, presented information on Friday regarding the recent tuberculosis (TB) case of a student at Santa Maria High School.

Dr. Thoman explained the status of this student and the effect it will have on Santa Barbara County. Currently the student is in isolation and receiving adequate medical treatment. "The student is in very good hands and is expected to make a full recovery," said Thoman. Within an hour of diagnosis, the student was isolated. Dr. Thoman reiterated that TB is treatable and Public Health is well equipped to handle the situation with the protocol they have in place. Tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection that involves the lungs and is commonly spread through sneezing or coughing.

Public Health identified between 120-160 Santa Maria High School students who may have been in close contact with the infected student. These students will be tested for tuberculosis, any positive screenings prompting a chest X-ray. Dr. Thoman explained that anyone who has had contact with TB in the past will have a positive test result, but this doesn't mean that TB is currently active. Approximately 10% of latent TB turns active making it nearly impossible to determine how long a patient has been infected. In general, an active TB patient needs 4-8 weeks before the lungs are clear of infection and they can expect 6-18 months of treatment.

Dr. Thoman explained that Santa Barbara County is a medium burden jurisdiction, due to the number of active TB cases reported in the past several years. 2013 was classified as an "outbreak" due to the links and transmissions of TB. Below are the statistics of active TB cases reported in Santa Barbara County.

2014: 10 active cases of TB reported so far
2013: 26 active cases of TB
2012: 24 active cases of TB
2011: 21 active cases of TB

It's estimated that there are 3 million latent TB infections in California and approximately 2,100-2,400 active cases per year.

John Davis of the Santa Maria Joint Union School District announced a town hall format meeting that will take place Friday evening at Santa Maria High School, starting at 7pm, to answer any questions from the community.

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