Concern over tuberculosis case at Denver school

Posted at 11:02 PM, Jan 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-12 07:04:41-05

Denver Public Schools and Denver Public Health are investigating a potential tuberculosis exposure at Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy. 

The exposure is believed to have happened during the fall semester at the K-12 grade school. 

Marlene Desmond of DPS said an individual was diagnosed with TB over the holiday break and the school was identified as a location where people may have been exposed.  The school and the health department have been working together to determine which students and faculty may have been exposed and should be tested.

"We have identified individuals that have had close contact with the person with TB, they've been tested.  Denver Health has a really strong protocol on how to handle this, and so we feel really confident that we've done a good job to ensure everyone is healthy and can continue to be healthy," Desmond said.

DPS wouldn't say whether the exposed individual was a student or faculty member but said there is no ongoing risk.  Officials said people who have not yet been contacted directly by Denver Public Health likely have not been exposed, and do not need to be tested.

"We have no reason to believe there is any ongoing risk of TB exposure at the school, it is safe for students and staff to report to school as usual," said Dr. Robert Belknap, director of the Denver Metro TB Control Program.

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by germs that are spread between people through the air.  It usually affects the lungs but may also affect other parts of the body. 

According to Denver Public Health:

-Most people who are exposed to TB do not get infected

-People who are infected generally do not get sick until months or even years later

-People who are infected cannot give TB to others unless they are sick with symptoms such as cough, fever, or night sweats

-A person who is infected, but is not sick, can receive treatment to prevent them from getting sick and spreading TB to family and friends in the future