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Published January 19, 2011, 12:00 AM

Tests confirm West Fargo student has TB

Testing under way for 75 others who may have been in close contact
Lab tests confirmed a student from West Fargo’s Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center likely has active tuberculosis, the health officer for Fargo Cass Public Health said Tuesday.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

Lab tests confirmed a student from West Fargo’s Sheyenne Ninth Grade Center likely has active tuberculosis, the health officer for Fargo Cass Public Health said Tuesday.

Tuberculin skin testing has started for 75 other Sheyenne students thought to have been in close contact with the ill student, Dr. John Baird said. Some students went to private health providers, he said.

Students who haven’t had the tests will get them this week at the school or a central site. A follow-up test will be done in six to eight weeks, Baird said.

The infected student will be treated with a four-drug combination of antibiotics and a tuberculosis drug, a regimen that will take six to nine months Baird said.

If any of the student’s classmates test positive, they will be given an anti-tuberculin drug for six to nine months, Baird said.

News of the early test results came from the North Dakota Department of Health. Craig Steffens, TB coordinator for the Division of Disease Control, said it will take another three to five weeks for 100 percent confirmation.

Baird and school officials, who announced the possible TB case last week, said most Sheyenne students – another 440 to 450 – should be fine.

Baird said the treatment for the ill student is complicated and lengthy due to the disease’s slow growth.

“The big problem with tuberculosis, and why we get concerned about it, if someone goes on and off treatment, it becomes resistant,” Baird said.

The area sees three to 10 cases of tuberculosis a year, Baird said.

Tuberculosis is caused by germs spread from person to person through the air. Symptoms include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats, Public Health said.

Symptoms of TB in the lungs include coughing, chest pain and coughing up blood, the agency said.

Tuberculosis is contracted through frequent or prolonged exposure, such as sitting in a small room or confined area for a long period of time, with someone with active tuberculosis, the agency said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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