111 students, staff at a Sacramento-area high school test positive for latent TB

SACRAMENTO - High school students and parents are demanding answers about a tuberculosis scare at Grant Union High School. Test results show 111 students and staff tested positive for latent TB.

"My brother is on the track team and he's a football player. He's positive for it," student Rodrigo Prieto said.

Students and parents packed into the cafeteria at Grant Union High in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood Wednesday night to raise their concerns about what the new test results mean.

The county tested 200 people after a student came down with an active case of TB in February. Last week, another 500 were asked to be screened, but not everyone showed up.

A total of 111 people at Grant Union High now have latent TB. Sacramento County public health officials said it's a high number, but it doesn't pose the same risk. Latent TB is not infectious and there are no symptoms.

"The person is not contagious, is not sick, they can be around other people, " Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said.

Anyone with latent TB should take preventative medication so it doesn't become serious.

Virginia Castillano said her son tested positive for latent TB.

"He'll need to take medication," Castillano said. "He doesn't have to, but if he doesn't, he'll have a higher risk of becoming active in the future."

"A person can stay in that latent phase for a long long time," Kasirye said. "In fact, the majority of people never actually come down with disease. But a certain percentage, about 10 percent do."

Active TB is rare; Sacramento County sees about 80 cases every year. The symptoms of active TB are a persistent cough, fever and weight loss. It could be fatal.

The county public health department doesn't plan to do any additional screening. They said they need to finish reviewing the data they collected already.

Many parents argued that the entire school needs to be tested to offer the community peace of mind.

"This is something that could ruin a community if it's not taken care of right now," Castillano said.


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