UPDATE: Health officials confirm case of tuberculosis at Butler

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Nov. 5, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Health officials have gone on the record confirming a case of tuberculosis at Butler High School.

In a news conference on Monday, officials said the female student has been in the hospital for the past three to four weeks receiving treatment for the infection.

Some of the kids that were deemed high priority for catching TB have already been tested, but on Monday, testing opened up to everyone.

Even though a tuberculosis outbreak can be scary, learning when to worry comes down to education.

News 12 taked to GHSU's Dr. James Wilde, who is a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases. He says many parents can breathe a sigh of relief.

"The bottom line is if it's a positive tuberculosis skin test, this does not mean your child is going to get active disease and have this horrible infection that has to land him in the hospital," Wilde said.

He says the kind of TB we have now is very different from what people used to get.

"The biggest difference is that it is now highly treatable. We have antibiotics that cover tuberculosis very well," Wilde said.

He says even if you are exposed to the bacteria, that doesn't mean you'll get sick.

In fact, he says 95 percent of those who catch the germ never show signs of TB.

"There's about a 5 percent risk lifetime after you've been infected of getting active disease. Active disease means you're losing weight, you have night sweats, you're coughing a lot, you're coughing up blood. Most people never get active disease," Wilde said.

Tuberculosis testing for all students at Butler High School started on Monday and lasts all week. The faculty gets tested Wednesday.

With 840 students, Principal Greg Thompson says they are "working aggressively" to test everyone by the end of the week.

If your child does test positive, Wilde says there is help.

"If your child has a negative result, relax. If your child has either positive TB skin test or even active disease, these are going to be very, very easily treatable with antibiotics," he said.

This time of year, Wilde suggests TB probably isn't the germ we should be most worried about.

"Tuberculosis is contagious, but it's not as contagious as for instance, flu or colds, so the fact that somebody has tuberculosis in this school does not mean that the entire school is going to come down with tuberculosis," he said.

Testing is offered at the school, but students and families can also go to the Richmond County Health Department.

Thompson says he allowed testing at the school so students won't have to miss class.

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