The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services in collaboration with the Department of Education is working to identify all close contacts to an active case of pulmonary Tuberculosis at Simon Sanchez High School. All identified contacts will be notified by letter and provided information regarding the date of the TB screening.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria causing tuberculosis, is carried through the air in infectious droplet nuclei too small for the naked eye to see. These are produced when persons with tuberculosis of the lung or larynx sneeze, cough, speak or sing. People cannot get infected with TB bacteria through handshakes, sitting on toilet seats, or sharing dishes and utensils with someone who has the TB disease.
Two forms of TB exist, both of which are treatable and curable:
Latent TB infection – when a person has TB bacteria in their body but the body’s immune system is protecting them and they are not sick. Someone with latent TB infection cannot spread the infection to other people.
Active TB disease – when a person becomes sick with TB because their immune system can no longer protect them. Someone with active TB disease may be able to spread the disease to other people
Persons exhibiting symptoms of the disease such as a bad cough that lasts longer than two weeks, coughing up bloody sputum, weakness or fatigue, chills, weight loss, no appetite, fever and night sweats should contact their physician.
Exposure to TB does not result in TB disease immediately, It takes anywhere from 2-12 weeks in order to see evidence of TB infection as shown by a positive TB skin test reaction. Most people who get exposed to TB might be able to keep the infection inactive or latent. However, children below the age of 5 years, people with Diabetes, or other immunosuppressive conditions may not be able to keep the infection under control and are at higher risk of developing active TB disease within a few months or 1-2 years after the exposure.
The TB (PPD) skin test will be provided free to employees and students identified as close contacts on Tuesday, Jan.15, from 8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., at Simon Sanchez High School, and reading will be on Jan. 17, from 8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
The required TB skin test can also be obtained from a clinic of their choice; however, the result of the test must be submitted to the school by Jan. 22, in order to avoid exclusion. This exclusion is necessary to ensure that all affected employees and students receive the required test and do not have active TB.
For more information, the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control, TB Control Program at 735-7131/145/120.
LAURENT SF DUENAS, MPH, BSN, RN