Desert Sands Student Tests Positive for Active Tuberculosis

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tuberculosis lungs

INDIO — An Indio High School student has been diagnosed with active tuberculosis, and Riverside County health officials said Wednesday they are working to determine whether any other students or staff were exposed to the illness.

“The student is receiving treatment and is expected to recover, although the individual will not return to school until a medical clearance is issued,” the Riverside County public health department said in a news release, adding that the student won’t be publicly identified due to confidentiality requirements.

Health officials believe 165 of the teen’s classmates may have been exposed, as well as an unspecified number of school staff members. As such, the agency is sending letters to notify them, while stressing that the risk of transmission is low.

“As a precautionary measure, the health department is recommending that anyone who receives the notice be screened with a TB skin test at a clinic being planned later this month at Indio High School,” officials said. “Anyone who receives the notification letter can also opt to be tested by their own health care provider.”

If a skin test comes back positive, the next step is a chest X-ray that can help determine whether an individual has TB or has simply been exposed to it, according to health officials.

Those who don’t receive notifications of exposure are not considered to be at risk, officials said.
“While the risk of infection is slight, it is important that those who are notified take the time to get tested,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s public health officer. “The testing is simple and does not take much time, although it can provide peace of mind.”

The diagnosis marks the third time the illness has been detected at a county school this year.

A Desert Mirage High School student was treated for a potential infection in February, and an active diagnosis was detected in a Cahuilla Elementary School student in June.

Tuberculosis is spread through the air during prolonged, repeated and close contact with an infected individual. It is not spread by shaking hands or through sharing food, bed linens or toilet seats. Not everyone who becomes infected develops symptoms, but those who do can have serious complications.