20 positive skin tests for TB at two govt schools
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that 20 students and teachers at Government High School and A.F. Adderley Junior High School had positive mantoux skin tests for tuberculosis (TB).
“We would have given notice that there were two positive cases of active tuberculosis in two of our public schools,” Sands said.
“That then triggers an automatic process through public health, and we have some soldiers in public health who go out and do contact tracing [and] interview persons.
“They then do skin tests, what we call tuberculin tests, for those people who are not a part of our record. We don’t repeat skin tests on people who we know the skin tests are positive or who we know have tuberculosis.
“That process, at both of those schools, has been completed, and we have approximately 20 individuals who now have positive tuberculin skin tests.”
Sands said those individuals will have chest X-rays to determine whether they have active tuberculosis or latent tuberculosis.
“If the chest X-rays are normal, negative, clean, no evidence of tuberculosis, and they have never had tuberculosis before, then those persons would be considered TB conversions and that they have latent tuberculosis,” Sands said.
“They can then be treated with a single drug for a few months.
“If they have a positive chest X-ray, meaning that they have lesions consistent with tuberculosis, then they would be admitted to the hospital. They would get inpatient five drug therapy.
“They would stay in hospital until they are confirmed to be noninfectious, and then they would have directly observed therapy, short course, for six months, but then they can go back into the community. They can go back into school, and they are not any threat to anybody.”
Asked whether those who had positive mantoux tests are still in school, Sands said only people with symptoms of active tuberculosis need to be isolated.
He assured the public that there is no need for alarm.
“So, the patients who started this process had active tuberculosis,” he said.
“Once treated for 14 days with RIPE, then they would go back into school, go back into church, go back into the community. They pose no risk to anybody.”
Sands added, “The Bahamas has an impeccable reputation as it relates to public health campaigns.
“There is no need for panic.
“Understand that the reason that public health exists is to do the types of things to educate, to screen, to track down, to treat persons with communicable and noncommunicable diseases, and I don’t think that the public has to worry that they are not going to do their job, or that they are not going to do it professionally.”
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease of the lungs which is spread through the air from one person to another.
It is not spread by contact with clothes, drinking glasses, eating utensils, handshakes, toilets or other surfaces.
The symptoms of tuberculosis include a bad cough lasting three weeks or longer, chest pain, coughing up blood or phlegm from deep inside the lungs, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever and sweating all night.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish