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Hundreds to be tested for tuberculosis at Olathe Northwest High School

<i></i><br/>Hundreds to be tested for tuberculosis at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe
Lawrence, Nakia

Hundreds to be tested for tuberculosis at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe

By Joe Hennessy

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    OLATHE, Kansas (KCTV) — A tuberculosis, or TB, testing clinic could be larger than once thought at Olathe Northwest High School Thursday.

It is being operated by the Johnson County Department of Health in response to an exposure earlier this month at the school.

Although the exposure itself was discovered at Olathe Northwest High School in October, the health department director says the student was infectious as early as last spring.

In total, at least 425 people need to be tested.

Johnson County Department of Health Director Charlie Hunt said earlier this month upon learning of this, “Just because of the large number, we are anticipating it might take up to a couple of weeks to get those results back and for us to get everything processed and get that information communicated back to the families.”

The testing clinic will be at the high school for those notified by the health department as close contacts to the infected person. Letters were sent out to staff and students’ parents.

The school held a ‘parents only’ meeting with the health department when they were made aware of this situation about tuberculosis, updates on the investigation of the active case, and to let them know about Thursday’s testing clinic.

TB is spread through the air by coughing, laughing, singing, and sneezing. The only way to contract the disease though is by frequent or close contact with someone who has an active case of the disease, according to the Johnson County Department of Health. It cannot be spread by contact with someone’s clothing, drinking glass, eating utensils, handshake, toilet, or other surfaces.

“It takes a lot of close, prolonged contact and so this is not something like COVID-19 where just being in the same room as someone is enough to transmit. It really does take that close, personal contact,” said Hunt.

Activities and classes have gone on as usual during all of this, but testing is needed. TB is treatable, but the treatment does take some time with an active case requiring anywhere from 4-9 months of antibiotics.

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