MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Testing for additional tuberculosis cases at Carolina Forest High School will begin Monday, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced Friday.
DHEC confirmed a case at the school on Wednesday after a nurse notified the department of a possible case on Monday. Neither the state nor the district has released any information about the infected person.
DHEC said it’s “evaluating the school layout and routine activities of the case to determine the level of risk for classrooms, lunchrooms and other areas where students and staff congregate.”
Asked why the agency was waiting until Monday to test people who may have been exposed, SCDHEC State TB Program Medical Consultant Dr. Rick Ervin said, “the medical reason is everything [the disease] goes on so slow it really doesn’t make any difference.” Ervin also said the agency needs time to gather resources.
Ervin told News13 doctors will “overestimate those who are at risk” to make sure they catch anyone who has been exposed.
“It’s only those individuals who are around the case that we know for long periods of time in a relatively closed environment who are at risk,” Ervin said. “You’re not going to get it walking through the hallway, with the individual having walked in the other direction.”
DHEC couldn’t say how many people will be tested. “We begin testing with those who are in closest contact to the individual,” DHEC public information officer Tommy Crosby told News13. “As the contact investigation progresses, additional people may be recommended for testing. The numbers will constantly change throughout the investigation. At the end of the investigation, we can share how many individuals were tested.”
DHEC will return to Carolina Forest High School in eight weeks to re-test anyone it thinks was exposed.
The sick person won’t return to school until after they are confirmed to no longer be contagious. After starting treatment this usually takes a few weeks.
Parents, students or community members with concerns are asked to contact DHEC’s Careline at 1-855-472-3432.