Two cases of TB at Mt. Rainier HS

DES MOINES, Wash. – Two people at Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines have been diagnosed with active tuberculosis, and the school’s staff and students are being urged to get tested as a precaution.

Public Health – Seattle & King County reported the two cases on Saturday morning. One person was found with TB in late January, while the second was diagnosed in late March. Neither was infected in the school, health officials said, as their risk factors were unrelated to the environment at the high school.

“We have not found a link that suggests the infection was passed at the school. But we are examining every possibility, and that’s why we’re recommending TB testing for all students and staff at this time,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, Interim Health Officer, said in a release on Saturday.

All 1,700 students and all staff at Mount Rainier HS are being asked to get tested. Free testing will be available at the school starting on April 13, the first day back from spring break. Whether or not  anyone else from the school is infected won't be known until after the testing.

“The health and safety of our students and staff is a top priority, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to be tested,” said Aimee Denver, Highline Public Schools Director of Health and Social Services, also in a statement on Saturday.

“Tuberculosis is a very serious disease. It is also treatable with antibiotics, which is another good reason to get the free test,” said Dr. Masa Narita, the county’s TB Control Officer.

Officials at Public Health – Seattle & King County say that re-testing for TB is being planned for mid-May, as it can take up to two months for the body to react after being exposed to TB. If untreated, the disease can cause lung failure and be fatal.