Tuberculosis case at St. Louis Park HS, testing clinics scheduled

- St. Louis Park High School and the Hennepin County Department of Health will test students and staff members for tuberculosis after the school learned of a recent case of active TB.

In late November, the school district was notified by the health department that an individual at the high school had been diagnosed with active tuberculosis. By the time the school was notified, the individual was receiving medical care and posed no further risk or exposure to the school. A notification message was sent to all St. Louis Park High School families on Wednesday from Superintendent Rob Metz.

In September, October, and November, before the tuberculosis diagnosis had been determined, the infected individual was in the school building while contagious. Due to the risk of exposure, the Hennepin County Department of Health will test students and staff who may have had close contact with the contagious individual.

The county’s tuberculosis experts asked school administrators to wait to communicate the tuberculosis news and recommended testing information until they could determine who needed to be tested. They also informed the school that it takes several months for a new case of tuberculosis to become identifiable by their testing.

The school district has voluntarily agreed to allow the testing to take place at the high school. The student testing has been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 30 and Tuesday, Jan. 31. The school is asking that signed permission forms be returned to school by Thursday, Jan. 19.

On Wednesday, Jan. 11, the school mail a letter to every high school student and staff member’s home. The letter indicates whether or not the Hennepin County Department of Health is recommending testing for the student or staff member.  Students who will be tested must return a signed permission form to the office before testing can take place. Staff members who will be tested will receive an update on the testing process in the very near future.

“Although this is a unique situation for us, the Hennepin County Department of Health has dealt with similar situations on numerous occasions,” Superintendent Metz said in a statement. “We are working closely with them, listening to their advice, and are working to support our students and staff members in every way possible.”

What is tuberculosis?
Source: Minnesota Department of Health

Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. There are two phases: latent infection and active disease. Active TB disease most often affects the lungs, but can involve any part of the body. TB is transmitted through the air; extended close contact with someone with infectious TB disease is typically required for TB to spread.

TB disease in the lungs may cause symptoms such as: A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer, pain in the chest, coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs). Other symptoms of TB disease are: Weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, sweating at night.

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