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Tuberculosis testing at Lee High School in Fairfax after 3 cases

4:32 PM, Jun 21, 2013   |    comments
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SPRINGFIELD, Va. (WUSA9) -- Fairfax County's Lee High School was turned into a medical clinic as dozens of students came in to be tested for tuberculosis. 

The county health department sent letters to 430 students who may have been exposed to one of three people at the school who had active TB during the last six months. Two cases are recent, one was identified in December.

Student James Zurita received a letter and said as he arrived at the school, "I've been very nervous. I was like, um, who might've had, and I might be contagious or something."

While all 1,900 Lee High School families were notified of the illnesses, those 430 students were sent letters asking them to come in to be tested.

Rising senior Chris Thorton received a letter and showed reporters the bump on his inner arm where he had been pricked for the test.

Danielle Klinkert was also tested today but said she wasn't nervous because she did not have any symptoms. Her mom, Dawn Klinkert, said they were told they'd receive the results on Monday.

Testing will continue through the beginning of next week.

Some parents brought their children to be tested even though they didn't receive a letter. They were turned away. Parents also questioned why they hadn't heard about the December TB case or any testing then.  

Fairfax County Health Director Gloria Addo-Ayensu explained that 20 students were tested after the December case. She said the reason they didn't test more people then, and why they're only testing 430 people now is because TB is not highly contagious.

"This is not a disease you can catch in passing," Addo-Ayensu said. Even if someone coughs on you once or twice, that's probably not enough to catch the illness, she said.
She explained, catching TB requires close proximity for a lengthy period of time.

She said they've learned one of the three people who had active TB did not catch it at Lee High School. They're still investigating where the two other cases came from.   

The three people who had active TB were not allowed back in school until they were healthy again.

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