Risk of Tuberculosis Spreading Very Low

Small Number of People at Arsenal 6-8 to be Tested

Joe DeStio
December 11, 2019 - 2:03 pm
The risk of someone getting tuberculosis from an infected student at Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8 is very small, according to an official at the Allegheny County Health Department.

Joe DeStio

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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - The risk of someone getting tuberculosis from an infected student at Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8 is very small, according to an official at the Allegheny County Health Department.

"Most people in a school environment are not at risk," according to Dr. Kristen Mertz, the department's top epidemiologist. "People should not go running to the (emergency department) worried that they have tuberculosis."

A health department statement says they are identifying individuals that may have been in close contact with the infected student. "And that should be completed today (Wednesday)," according to Dr. Mertz. "And then the Allegheny County Health Department will offer testing to the contacts that have been identified."

Tuberculosis is fairly rare in the United States. Mertz says Allegheny County sees about 20 cases a year. 

The only way to contract the bacterial infection is through the air. Typically that involves coughing, sneezing, and talking in close contact over a longer period of time.

Symptoms typically include a cough of longer than three weeks, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, chills, fever, and coughing up blood.
Dr. Mertz says TB is more common in other countries and about one-third of the world's population is infected. However, only about 10 percent of infected people will get active tuberculosis.

The infected student at Arsenal is getting medication and should make a full recovery soon.

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