Update on Tuberculosis Screenings at Grant Union High School


Department of Health and Human Services
Sherri Z. Heller

5/14/2014 10:00 PM

Media Contact:

Laura McCasland    mccaslandla@saccounty.net    (916) 875-2008


A Grant Union High School student was diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB) in February and has been medically cleared to return to school.  Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in cooperation with Twin Rivers Unified School District (TRUSD), subsequently screened nearly 200 students and staff for TB exposure, shortly after the student was diagnosed with active TB. Forty-seven students and staff who shared classes with the teenager tested positive for exposure to TB and are receiving preventive treatment.  

People with latent TB are not infectious and they do not exhibit symptoms. It is, however, necessary to provide preventive treatment to stop progression to active disease.  Only those with active TB may be infectious and can exhibit symptoms such as cough and fever.

Because the number of exposures was higher than anticipated, the California Department of Public Health—in cooperation with TRUSD and DHHS—conducted airflow evaluations in some of the classrooms the students shared. The evaluation indicated that some of the adjoining classrooms shared the ventilation system. 

Because of this, DHHS decided to expand testing to include students who attended class in the adjoining classrooms and subsequent classes to the index case. On May 5, an additional 260 students were tested and results indicated that 64, of the 260, tested positive to the skin test.  The chest x-rays were negative, meaning that these students had latent TB infection. 

TB is a bacterial disease spread through the air when there is generally repeated, prolonged, close exposure to an infectious individual.  Not all students in the school were tested because they were not with the student for a prolonged period, in an enclosed environment.  Any risk of exposure would likely be brief and at the same level of exposure as the general population.

Those in the school who had been identified but did not show up for the test, are strongly encouraged to go to their own healthcare provider or contact DHHS’ Division of Public Health at 916-875-5881 to be tested.

DHHS is offering treatment to all who tested positive and is using a new regimen that consists of taking medicine once per week, for 12 weeks. It does require direct-observed-therapy (someone from Public Health must be present to watch the person take the medicine). The advantage of this regimen is that there is a much higher completion rate.