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Health officials plan testing after individual at Syracuse school tests positive for tuberculosis

Health officials will be trying to stop the potential spread of tuberculosis at a Syracuse city school. 

The Onondaga County Health Department was contacted this week about an individual at the PSLA High School at Fowler with an active case of TB, a bacterial illness that attacks the lungs.

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Indu Gupta says the next step is to determine whether any other individuals have been infected by the bacteria, which is spread through the air. So the health department and school district are putting on a clinic Friday to test people who had contact with the sick individual.

“There will be a decent number. We would say over a hundred individuals at this point,” said Gupta. “But again, considering the large school district, we will start with a small circle, then pathways, then considering the results, go to the next step.”

Gupta says they’re testing a large group, in order to be cautious.

“We are being a little bit more aggressive in testing, in terms of we have expanded a little further to make sure,” she said. “We want to make sure when we say it’s negative, we want to reassure everybody.”

Gupta emphasizes that there’s no threat to the greater community, because someone has to be in close contact for an extended period of time with the infected individual. 

Tuberculosis is curable and is treated with antibiotics. Before the advent of antibiotics, it was often a death sentence.   

The individual with an active case has been isolated, and is being treated at a local hospital.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.