Parents asking why every child isn't being tested for TB

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News 12 at 6 o' clock/ Friday, April 18, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The letters have been passed out and students at Hephzibah High School now know if they need to be tested for TB exposure.

Testing starts Monday, but parents are asking why the school isn't testing everyone.

Brittany Arrington is a student at Hephzibah High School and said it's been the buzz at school all week.

"People start talking about it. They're like you start coughing up blood, it's inside your lungs, and I'm just like ugh, I don't think this is very good," she said.

Brittany's mom, Beatrice Johnson, went to an emergency parent meeting Wednesday night to find out what was really going on. They told parents a student had a confirmed case of exposure to TB and as a precaution, they were going to test people who had come in contact with the student.

"Of course they gave me this letter stating that my daughter doesn't need to be tested," Johnson said. "Well, what I didn't understand, my daughter didn't need to be tested, but her best friend does, girl she plays soccer with does, why doesn't she?"

With a highly contagious airborne disease possibly spreading around the school, Brittany's mom would rather be safe than sorry.

"I do have an appointment Monday to have my daughter tested, even though the note says she don't have to be, but I'm going to be on the safe side."

The health department is testing the students who they believe came in direct contact with the student in question Monday at the school, free of charge. But, if they don't think your student needs to be tested at this time, you have to go on your own to the doctor or health department and pay out of pocket for the test.

"I'm really upset at the way they handled this, I am. I don't think they handled it well at all. I don't understand why all of the students aren't being tested," Johnson said.

The health department says the the group of students and faculty they are testing on Monday is just a starting point. If they find out the student in question tests positive, or several students test positive, they will expand out the free testing.

A nurse with the TB clinic says 14 percent of people in Augusta are likely to get a false positive from the first test, which is why they only test the people who have come in contact with the student, otherwise their numbers will be skewed.

Remember, a positive test does not mean you have TB, it just means you've been exposed to the bacteria. Another test is needed to confirm an actual infection. If TB is present, it can be treated with antibiotics.

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