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Silver Ridge student diagnosed with TB

"Parents of Silver Ridge Elementary students received letters from school administrators Thursday warning that a fifth grader has been diagnosed with tuberculosis of the lungs.The TB infection - caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis - was discovered Tuesday after the student was taken to the family's health care provider.While the bacteria can infect any part of a victim's body, Dr. Willa Fisher, director of the Bremerton-Kitsap County Health District said it is most commonly found in the lungs, where it can be spread to others through coughing, sneezing, laughing or singing.Symptoms of TB include weakness, fatigue, weight loss, fever and night sweats. If the infection is in the lungs, additional symptoms can include chest pain and coughing up blood, Fisher said.Health district officials have been working with student and school officials to identify who was in close contact with the student. This list usually includes family members, friends, classmates and school staff, Fisher said.The health district sent notification to those individuals Wednesday, before the school-wide letter was sent Thursday.This isn't a disease that just spreads out in the world, she said. Whenever you have a disease like this, you always start from the beginning.When you're dealing with children, you want to be over-cautious, Fisher added.Those who are identified as possibly having contracted TB are being encouraged to undergo a tuberculin skin test at the school Tuesday, April 18. The skin test is administered through an injection of tuberculin under the skin, which is examined two to three days later for a reaction. If a reaction - in the form of a red, firm area where the injection was administered - is found, Fisher said chest X-rays commonly are performed to determine whether the infection is in the lungs.Stressing the difference between being infected and having the disease, Fisher said an infection can lay dormant for many years with no side effects. Because of this, she said those who are tested Tuesday will be retested before the school year ends in JuneThey could have been exposed to this child, but not reacted to it yet, she said.If the skin test and the X-ray identify an active case of TB, Fisher said preventative medication would be prescribed, which can eliminate infectiousness in two or three weeks.Fisher said based on the information gathered from the student, the disease had likely been dormant for quite a while prior to last week.Right now, it doesn't seem like this a schoolwide problem, she said. It's not a scary thing, but it's something parents should be aware of.If parents are concerned about their children, Fisher recommended they contact the health district of their health-care provider.Steve Anderson, principal of Silver Ridge, said health district officials have handled the situation in the best manner possible.They've really been on top of this since the beginning, he said. It's nice to know we have this level of support in the area."

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