Summit County Public Health officials have confirmed a recent case of tuberculosis in a patient who is currently a student or staff member at Akron’s North High School. The health team is working to identify any potential individuals who might be exposed or infected by the strain of tuberculosis.
Akron Public Schools Working with Summit County Public Health to Investigate TB Case
Although tuberculosis is a contagious infectious disease, health officials and public school representatives say that it’s unlikely that many others are at risk for catching the disease. While members of school community may have been exposed to the bacteria, it’s relatively difficult to catch.
Tuberculosis is spread through the air via close prolonged contact when an infected person speaks, sings, coughs, sneezes, etc. The disease is not easily spread through surfaces or by being in close proximity to an infected person. The bacteria doesn’t linger on things like doorknobs, tables, light switches, etc.
The disease, although potentially very serious, is also almost always curable with proper treatment and care. Modern antibiotics and medication can treat and usually eliminate tuberculosis.
In the past, the disease could linger without any serious symptoms for years, but wasn’t curable. Now, while rare, tuberculosis is an easily treatable ailment.
Information About the Patient Won’t Be Released, But Precautions Are In Place
For privacy reasons, the Akron public school system can’t release any information about the infected person. It’s not released whether they’re a student or a staff member of the Akron North High School.
The people in the community who are most at risk for complications stemming from tuberculosis are the young, elderly, and those who have a compromised immune system. According to statistics gathered by the World Health Organization, roughly one third of the global population is infected with “latent tuberculosis.”
This information means that people who have been infected by the tuberculosis strain of bacteria but aren’t yet ill or showing significant symptoms aren’t contagious or at risk of transmitting the disease to others. Those who are infected with “active” tuberculosis rather than simply carrying the “latent” strain could should mild symptoms for many months before realizing that the illness is more serious than they initially thought.
Local Akron Health Agency Opens TB Informational Hotline for Worried Community Members
According to health officials, this is how those infected with active tuberculosis can infect as many as 10-15 people throughout the course of a single year. The agency urges the Akron community to stay at home when they think they may be sick so as not to pass contagious illnesses on to others.
If more members of Akron North High School or public school system are infected, the public will be alerted, but additional details will likely not be released due to private policies.
The Summit County Public Health organization is staffing a TB information hotline. The TB information-line number is 330-926-5795 starting at 8 a.m., and the Akron community can call for more information about tuberculosis, getting tested, and preventative measures.