Rutherford County Schools has been notified by the Tennessee Department of Health that a student at Smyrna High School has tested positive for active tuberculosis.
Schools spokesman James Evans says the school district is providing contact information to the health department so it can notify the families of students who have had direct contact with the patient and advise them of any testing or treatment that may be needed. In addition, the school district is sending home a general message today to all Smyrna High School parents so they are aware of the situation.
The ill student is not at school at this time and has been not been in the building since early December. The health department has advised the school district that tuberculosis germs only remain in the environment for a few hours so there should not be any risk of further spread of TB at the school. The health department is also screening employees at the school who have had direct contact with the student.
Evans says this announcement is being made by the school district only as a precaution to keep parents informed and to address rumors before they begin. The risk of tuberculosis transmission in this particular case is very low, according to the health department. Any student in need of TB testing will be contacted by the health department as part of the routine contact investigation. Parents are strongly urged not to panic but instead to monitor their children for illness and contact their child's health care provider or the health department if they have questions or concerns. Health department representatives will also hold a general information meeting to answer questions for Smyrna High School parents on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the school.
The Tennessee Department of Health is administering the response to this situation. For parents with health-related questions regarding tuberculosis, the MidCumberland Regional Health Office can be reached at 615-650-7046. Members of the media with questions should contact the Tennessee Department of Health Office of Communication and Media Relations at 615-741-3111.