By Kevin Kelley
Officials with the Cuyahoga County Tuberculosis Program said Friday that an individual recently diagnosed with tuberculosis is affiliated with the West Shore Career-Technical District, a career education program that is based out of Lakewood High School but also offered to students from Westlake.
On Friday, the Lakewood City Schools posted a notice on its website that a member of the West Shore Career-Technical District tested positive for tuberculosis. This is the same individual referenced in a similar notice made by the Westlake school district on Thursday, officials said.
Only about a dozen parents and students attended a public meeting on the TB diagnosis at the Westlake Schools Performing Arts Center Friday night. A physician from the Cuyahoga County Tuberculosis Program was on hand to answer questions.
Students and staff members at Westlake High School are being offered voluntary tests for tuberculosis after a member of the school community was diagnosed with the disease.
According to a statement released by the school district Thursday, the Cuyahoga County Tuberculosis Program informed the district after school on Jan. 4 that a person affiliated with the high school was diagnosed during the winter break. The individual has not returned to the school since classes resumed, the statement said. The individual has no links to any of the district’s other school building’s, the statement said.
Superintendent Dan Keenan told West Life that county health officials did not reveal the name of the individual or whether he or she was a student or staff member. They also told him that no actions, such as disinfecting classrooms, needs to be taken by the district. Keenan said his priority is to ensure the schools are safe.
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium that usually attacks the lungs but can attack any part of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain. According to the federal Center For Disease Control and Prevention, Tuberculosis can spread through the air from one person to another.
Experts at the TB Clinic at MetroHealth Medical Center told district officials that the risk of the high school’s students and staff contracting the disease is extremely low and that the school does not have to close.
“There is no reason to be alarmed,” Dr. Scott Mahan, director of the Cuyahoga County Tuberculosis Program and Infectious Disease Physician at MetroHealth said in a statement. “TB is extremely treatable, and while it is not as common as it used to be, we still see about 30 to 50 cases each year in Cuyahoga County.”
Even so, voluntary skin testing for tuberculosis will be offered as a precaution to students and staff Jan. 10 in the Westlake School Performing Arts Center, which as adjacent to the high school. Students must have a signed parental permission form to undergo the test. Testing will also be offered at no cost at the TB Clinic at MetroHealth.
The TB skin test is performed by injecting a small amount of fluid into the skin in the lower part of the arm. The person being tested must be seen within 48 to 72 hours by a health care professional who looks for a reaction on the arm.