Health officials investigating after Western Heights student sick with tuberculosis

OKLAHOMA CITY – Students and staff at a local school are being tested for tuberculosis after a student was discovered to have the disease last week.

Western Heights Public Schools and Oklahoma City – County Health Department officials found out about the student on Wednesday, and told media and parents about it Tuesday.

“We were aware of this last Wednesday around 8:15 when the student self-reported it,” said Western Heights Public Schools Superintendent Mannix Barnes.

The student had a cough and recognized his own symptoms as possibly being tuberculosis because he knew the person who is believed to have infected him, according to Dr. Dale Claflin, the TB Medical Director at the Oklahoma City – County Health Department.

“Someone in the family, a known case of TB,” Dr. Claflin said.

The student was immediately sent home to be treated, and his family members were tested.

Tuberculosis can be spread by an infected person coughing on or near others.

But health department officials don’t believe this student has a bad case of TB, or that it’s very contagious.

“In this patient`s case, you could probably be around them a lot more than that eight hours and not be, not have a significant exposure,” Dr. Claflin said.

Superintendent Barnes said where the student does most of his schooling is away from most of the student and staff population.

“This was into a certain area of the school that not very many folks were possibly exposed, if they were exposed at all,” Barnes said.

So the school is making an effort to contact every parent whose child shares that same space.

“If we’re reaching out to you, then you need to make sure you`re aware of when the health department is going to be up here to test,” Barnes said. “And if they miss that day, we’re also coordinating with the health department to try to get them tested here at the facility.”

But other parents said they would still want to know about any possible exposure to get their child tested in case.

“It’s life-threatening,” said grandparent Lloyd Summers. “You don’t really know where the kid’s been. They can tell you it’s just been here but you don’t know.”

The school has set up a hotline for parents with questions to call at (405) 261-6720.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about the patient being a middle school student. Oklahoma City-County Health Department officials confirmed to KFOR that it was not a middle school student. The story has been corrected.

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