27 Students Test Positive for Tuberculosis at Kansas High School | American Lung Association

27 Students Test Positive for Tuberculosis at Kansas High School

Getting tested, seeking treatment key to prevent spread of disease

Statement of Dr. Albert A. Rizzo, MD, FACP, FCCP, D’ABSM, senior medical advisor of the American Lung Association

(March 18, 2015) - Chicago, IL

It has been reported recently that at least 27 students at Olathe Northwest High School in Kansas have tested positive for tuberculosis, also known as TB. Dr. Albert A. Rizzo, senior medical advisor of the American Lung Association, released the following statement:

“The recent outbreak of tuberculosis among students in Kansas has drawn attention to a very serious disease that should not be taken lightly. TB is an infectious disease that usually infects the lungs, but can attack almost any part of the body. Tuberculosis is spread from person to person through the air. If another person breathes in these germs, there is a chance that they will become infected with tuberculosis. However, it is not easy to become infected with tuberculosis. Usually a person has to be close to someone with active TB disease for a long period of time.

“If it is not treated, TB can be fatal. But TB can almost always be treated and cured if you take medicine as directed by your healthcare provider. Once you begin treatment, within weeks you will no longer be contagious.

“Not everyone who is infected with the TB germ develops TB disease. TB infection can remain dormant for years or a person’s whole life. Some people are at a greater risk of TB infection becoming active TB disease, including babies and young children, older adults, people who have other disease that weaken the immune system, and those who were infected with the TB bacteria in the last 2 years.

“Americans should listen to public health officials and seek immediate medical attention from their healthcare provider if they show symptoms of the disease, including a persistent cough, constant fatigue, weight loss and loss of appetite, fever, coughing up blood and night sweats.”

Editor’s Note: For more information and expert advice from the American Lung Association regarding tuberculosis and lung health, call the Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA.

The American Lung Association Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNG-USA) provides free comprehensive lung health assistance, information, disease counseling, and a proactive tobacco cessation program to improve the health of individuals with lung disease. 

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