Health officials report case of tuberculosis at Long Island middle school

COPIAGUE, Long Island (WABC) -- Health officials on Long Island revealed Monday that a member of the school community has been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services informed the Copiague Middle School Community that an individual who is part of the school community is presently receiving treatment for tuberculosis. It is unclear if the patient is a student or an adult.

Because the privacy of patients is carefully safeguarded under New York State Public Health Law, no further information about the individual will be disclosed.

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that is spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine. However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection and TB disease.

Persons with latent TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. They are infected with M. tuberculosis, but do not have TB disease. The only sign of TB infection is a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test or TB blood test. Persons with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB infection to others. In some people, TB bacteria overcome the defenses of the immune system and begin to multiply, resulting in the progression from latent TB infection to TB disease.

Suffolk County reported 25 cases of tuberculosis disease to the New York State Department of Health in 2018. CLICK HERE for more information on tuberculosis.

Health officials have scheduled a meeting to address concerns about a tuberculosis scare at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Copaigue Middle School.

The health department is working closely with the Copiague School District administration and the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tuberculosis Control to identify students and staff who have been in close and prolonged contact with the individual.

Those individuals and/or their parents have been notified by the school with further information about recommended testing. The affected individual is no longer at school; therefore, there is no further risk of transmission.

Only individuals who have close and prolonged contact with an infectious person are at risk for contracting tuberculosis. Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken emphasized that tuberculosis is NOT spread by shaking someone's hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes or kissing.

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