Students, staff get TB tests

State public health officials on Monday said they were testing about 200 students and staff at Lafayette High School for possible exposure to tuberculosis, a rare disease that generally attacks the lungs.

More testing was expected Tuesday at Truman Montessori School, said Dr. Tina Stefanski, regional medical director for the state Office of Public Health.

A suspected tuberculosis case in someone associated with Lafayette High School was announced last week.

“Our goal is to find anyone who has been exposed and treat them,” Stefanski said.

The Office of Public Health is releasing no details on the suspected case of the disease, and Stefanski said that case has still not been confirmed because it takes several weeks to positively identify an active tuberculosis infection.

The medical test to determine exposure to the disease takes less time, and the results should be back this week or early next week, Stefanski said.

Anyone who tests positive for exposure will be treated to prevent the onset of the disease, she said.

Stefanski said a second round of exposure tests is scheduled for some time in February.

“Some people could take more time before they react to the test,” she said.

Stefanski said no other suspected infections had been identified at Lafayette High School on Monday.

Tuberculosis is spread through prolonged contact with an infected person.

“You cannot get it like you get the flu or the common cold,” Stefanski said.

There were six cases of the disease reported in Lafayette Parish in 2011 and 167 statewide, according to figures from the Office of Public Health.

Classes are ongoing at Lafayette High School, and the testing has been carried out with “minimal disruption to the school environment,” said Bradley Cruice, Lafayette Parish school system director of health and wellness.

Stefanski encouraged parents with questions about the testing this week to contact the local Office of Public Health at (337) 262-5311.