FAIRFIELD -- Solano County Public Health officers say they will begin testing students at a Fairfield elementary school for tuberculosis next week after they came into contact with someone who had the disease.
TB is a bacteria that affects the lungs and used to be a huge killer at the turn of the century. While it is still infectious, it is curable with treatment and that’s why students and staff will be tested.
"We have a person associated with the school that has been found to have active tuberculosis," said Solano County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Michael Stacey.
The statement appears grimmer than it is.
While TB is a huge concern in a setting like a public school, where many people can be exposed to the coughing that can spread the TB bacteria from lung to lung, it is curable if detected. It takes a long extended exposure to contract it.
It’s tricky because you can be infected without being sick. That’s why 25 to 30 students, staff and volunteers will take either skin or blood tests next week.
"We want to find those individuals who might have had contact, find out whether they have been infected and make sure they get on treatment before they actually get sick," Stacey said.
The carrier’s identity is being kept confidential. That person has not been at the school for three weeks because they were ill, along with other unspecified reasons.
It was only Wednesday when the diagnosis was confirmed. Parents were notified right away and told if their child had contact they are likely to be tested. Health officials say the tests of all the people who came into contact with the infected person will take just a couple of hours, although a repeat test may be needed in six to eight weeks because of the incubation period.
"I think they’re handling it fine," said parent Jennifer Nelson. "They sent a letter, they sent an email and they called us. That’s more than you could ask for."
All the parents FOX40 spoke with Wednesday agreed.
Just to give some perspective, an infectious student was found at Armijo High School in Fairfield last year. Around 300 people were tested in that instance.
While officials did not say if the contact was limited to one classroom, the 25 to 30 people being tested indicates that the contact was isolated.
An informational meeting will be held at the school at 5 p.m. Wednesday to answer any further questions.
"A letter will be mailed to the parent/guardian of each student at the school," Principal Todd Bennett wrote. "The letter will indicate whether or not their student has been identified as an individual who has had significant contact with the affected person."