Sullivan County health officials to begin testing for possible tuberculosis exposure


SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Dozens of people will be tested for tuberculosis after health officials confirmed a case of the disease at Sullivan Central High School.

Doctors at the Sullivan County Health Department spent the day compiling a list of people they feel are at highest risk of exposure.

Early next week, health officials say what they think will be less than 50 people will get a notification from the Health Department, telling them they may have been exposed to TB and need to come in for testing.

“Students, staff, close friends, family – all those categories of people are being looked at,” said Regional Medical Director for the Sullivan County Health Department, Dr. Stephen May. “We’re talking hours of close exposure within close range.”

May estimates fewer than fifty people – students, staff, and close friends and family – will have to under a blood test to check for TB.

“We’re doing the testing as an abundance of caution to be sure that possibly no one was exposed,” said Dr. May.

It comes after health officials confirmed a case of TB at Sullivan Central High School.   Leaders won’t say if it’s a student, staff, or faculty.

“Our first notification of anything happening was Tuesday with any confirmation,” said Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski.

After that, Rafalowski said she spent the day Wednesday working with health professionals and drafting a letter for parents, which went out Thursday afternoon.

“I feel like it was timely and it was very important to us. I feel like it’s always a good policy to keep our parents informed; we want to be transparent,” Rafalowski said.

Rafalowski says she deployed another nurse to the school to answer any questions.   She says there’s been no additional cleaning at the school, and right now there’s no reason for concern.

“I’m a parent as well so I understand, but again I feel very comfortable. I have been at Central yesterday; I have been at Central today. I feel very comfortable,” said Rafalowski.

The Health Department says there isn’t a TB vaccine currently being used in the United States.

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.Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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