Sullivan Central families concerned about tuberculosis case, confident in administrators


BLOUNTVILLE, TN (WJHL) – Sullivan County Health Officials are investigating a case of tuberculosis at Sullivan Central High School, families say they’re concerned.

Parents and guardians got the news Thursday.This is the letter that they received today. 

It states the Sullivan County Health Department and Department of Education can confirm there is no ongoing exposure at the school. The State Department of Health described the risk of contracting TB as “minimal”.

Parents and grandparents we spoke with say they’re concerned that someone has tuberculosis but they’re confident school and health officials will make sure that person and others are safe and healthy.

Parent, Greg Johnson said he didn’t expect to hear of TB happening in 2017.

“It’s pretty alarming especially when it’s a disease you don’t hear much about anymore,” Johnson said.

Dr. Stephen May of the Sullivan County Health Department said TB has been around for centuries and Tennessee is no stranger.

“This year in Tennessee we’ve had 88 active cases of Tuberculosis,” Dr. May said.

But the state has actually seen a decline in the number of active cases over recent years. The last case in Sullivan County was in 2015.

Dr. May said the TB germ wraps into a cocoon and can lay dormant for years but eventually breaks free.

“The bacteria breaks out of the cocoon then it sets up housekeeping and it sets up an infection,” Dr. May said.

He said common symptoms include prolonged fevers, night sweats or progressive weight loss.

He made clear that the Sullivan Central community is currently not at risk.

“The individual is presently not a public health threat and there is no further ongoing risk of exposure,” Dr. May said.

At Sullivan Central, Thursday, it was business as usual. Grandparent, Cheryl Fultz feels the school has it under control.

“It’s a concern but I feel like the school will do everything that they possibly can,” Fultz said.

The common hope is that there are no widespread cases, health officials said, at this point, that does not seem likely.

Dr. May said as this investigation continues they will make a list of people who might be at the highest risk of infection and they’ll then be tested

Concerned parents and guardians can get more information from health officials and the school district at an informational meeting Monday night.

It starts at 6:30 at the Sullivan County Department of Education.See also: Tuberculosis case confirmed at Sullivan Central High SchoolCopyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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