Some students and staff at Capital High School in Boise may have been exposed to tuberculosis during the spring semester of the 2018-19 school year, public health officials said Thursday.
Anyone who was at risk of exposure is being notified by mail, and the general public is not affected, according to a news release from the Central District Health department and Boise School District.
The news release said the department was notified by a local health care professional that a patient had been diagnosed with an active tuberculosis infection.
The patient is “no longer affiliated” with the high school or with the Boise School District, but they may have exposed “a limited number” of people between January and May, the department said.
“At this time, there is no known ongoing risk for TB exposure at the school and it is safe for students and staff to attend school and participate in activities as usual,” the department said.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection. Unlike a virus, it can be treated with antibiotics.
Tuberculosis can cause mild or no symptoms — especially in early stages of infection, said Christine Myron, spokeswoman for Central District Health. That is why it took several months for public health officials to learn of the possible TB exposure.
“Symptoms can go unrecognized or undiagnosed while the person is infectious,” Myron said. “In this case, the person was recently diagnosed. TB investigations require pulling together a number of pieces — among them is determining when a person may have been infectious and the amount of risk they were to anyone they were in close proximity with during that timeframe.”
TB bacteria are spread through the air, “usually through repeated and prolonged exposure in a confined indoor space,” the Central District Health department said. Most people who are exposed don’t get infected. Those who do get infection cannot spread the disease unless they are sick, usually with symptoms such as a chronic cough, fever or night sweats. Those symptoms usually last for weeks and get worse.
Idaho had 15 cases of TB in 2018 — eight of which were in Ada County.
To learn more, visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s website on tuberculosis or the Central District Health’s TB website at cdhd.idaho.gov/dac-tb.