Health officials and the county schools are investigating a case of tuberculosis involving an individual at East Columbus Jr/Sr High School at Lake Waccamaw.
County Health Director Kim Smith said the department was notified on Dec. 21 of the case. A joint letter from Smith, Schools Superintendent Dr. Deanne Meadows and Dr. Kenneth Bowen, Principal of ECJSHS, has been sent to the ECJSHS parents and guardians of students who may have been exposed, informing them of the case and the need to have their child tested.
“Though there is no immediate public health risk from this exposure, we are investigating the possible exposures and will inform staff and parents/guardians of students who need to be tested to ensure that any potential exposure to TB is identified,” said Smith.
Public Health, School Nurses and Columbus County School staff are working together to identify possible exposures. Public Health will provide TB testing at no cost at the school.
The majority of staff and students will not need any testing or treatment, Smith said. Anyone who has a positive test will be offered medication for treatment at no cost. Post-exposure treatment prevents the development of TB.
“We appreciate the quick and thorough response by the Columbus County Health Department,” says Meadows. “We rely heavily on their expertise and guidance.”
TB is a respiratory disease that generally develops over weeks to months. TB spreads similar to the cold or flu, but is not as contagious and is completely curable with medication if the treatment is completed.
While it is important for the community to be aware of the case investigation, no one is at immediate risk of health problems related to this case, and there is no further risk of exposure. Regardless of exposure, there is no need to limit activities.
”We have protocols in place when there is a confirmed case,” Smith said. “We’re always ready.”
For additional information, contact Columbus County Health Department at 910.640.6615.