Butler High testing begins for TB as principal warns of 'huge health concern'

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Oct. 22, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Students at a local high school are being tested for tuberculosis. The testing comes as school leaders say a student showed signs of the disease at Butler High School. We caught up with parents who are nervous, to say the least.

News 12 was there as the Augusta Health Department prepared to test hundreds of Butler High School students for tuberculosis.

"It's scary because that's my baby," said Nancy Belangia whose granddaughter is being tested for TB. "She's 16. She was 16 last Thursday."

It was not the sweet 16th birthday she had planned for. She learned she may have been exposed to a student with a highly contagious disease.

"I thought, 'Wow!'" Belangia said. "This is scary to know that this is going on in the schools."

Principal Greg Thompson is treating the news as a crisis.

"It is not a major crisis right now," Thompson said. "Hopefully, it wont be, but it is a crisis because it is a huge health concern."

The biggest challenge has been driving the 10 teachers and 200 students identified as "high risk" to actually show up for the testing. The school system turned to social media, emails and robo calls to spread the message.

"We didn't get the robo call," Belangia said. "We got the letter. I have a grandson that is a senior here. I think the whole school should be tested."

Principal Thompson is now spending his time in damage control.

"Trying to squash any rumors," Thompson said. "Keeping people from going into a panic mode."

The testing was planned for Monday and Tuesday. Students are expected to get the results as early as Wednesday. The test is free for the 200 students and 10 teachers identified.

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