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Pittsburgh student with tuberculosis discharged from hospital

A student at Pittsburgh South Hills 6-8 Middle School who was recently diagnosed with an active case of tuberculosis is out of the hospital and recovering at home, a county health official said Wednesday.

County and school health officials continue to look for people who may have come in contact with the child while he or she was symptomatic, said Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department. They are focusing on South Hills 6-8 and Brashear High School, both in Beechview, and Pittsburgh Concord K-5 in Carrick.

“TB is a difficult disease to contract,” Hacker said. “Anyone who has active TB is a major public health concern.”

It is the first diagnosed case of tuberculosis in Allegheny County in 2015. State health records show two cases statewide of children younger than 15 and five cases in teens and adults ages 15 to 20 between 2010 and 2014.

There were 19 cases of tuberculosis in Allegheny County in 2014 and 17 in 2013. Hacker said there are no major differences in how the disease presents or plays out in children versus adults.

Hacker said the health department does not know yet how the child contracted the illness but that it’s possible for people to carry tuberculosis bacteria in their lungs without ever getting sick. Those people have latent infections. Symptoms include fever and weight loss and a cough that lasts three weeks or longer.

The infection is airborne and spread through droplets, typically when people cough. No one in the child’s family appears to have active tuberculosis, Hacker said, and skin test results may not be available until Thursday. The child will likely be monitored for several weeks, until sputum from the lungs no longer contains bacteria, she said.

On Monday, health officials recommended that all students at South Hills 6-8 Middle School be tested for tuberculosis. Workers will be at the school Feb. 17. Hacker said parents can take children to their own doctors or the county’s tuberculosis clinic at 3901 Penn Ave. for testing.

Megha Satyanarayana is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7991 or [email protected].


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