WASHINGTON — Two cases of active tuberculosis have been confirmed at Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro.
“I’m not able to identify whether they are students or staff, (or) whether they are children or adults, for privacy reasons,” Prince George’s County Public Schools spokesman John White told WTOP.
White said that both are receiving treatment, and it’s unlikely that anyone else at the school was exposed to the airborne disease.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tuberculosis bacteria can spread through the air when a person with TB disease coughs, speaks or sings, and a person nearby breathes in the germs and becomes infected.
A statement from the school system reads: “It normally takes at least eight hours of close contact in a small room for TB transmission to occur and the air space is only contagious when an untreated patient is present. A healthy person cannot contract TB from casual exposure such as passing in a hallway or sitting in a cafeteria for an hour.”
For those still concerned, the school system is offering free TB testing.
“Although the risk of exposure is small, we are working with our health professionals to offer TB screening out of an abundance of caution,” Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell said in the statement.
Letters were sent home to inform parents, and more efforts are underway to keep the school community updated and answer questions.
“There will be a meeting with parents. There’s already been a meeting with staff,” said White.
No meeting date has been set yet.
For more information, parents and guardians are being asked to call the Prince George’s County Health Department’s TB Control Program at 301-583-3110.