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Doctors investigate case of tuberculosis at George Washington High School

Doctors said it is safe for students and staff to attend school and participate in activities as usual – those who were exposed have been contacted and tested.

DENVER — A clinic at Denver Health is investigating tuberculosis (TB) exposure at George Washington High School (GWHS) – those who may have been exposed have already been contacted and will be tested. 

Someone reported a case of tuberculosis, and it involves someone who is a part of the GWHS community. Denver Health can't say if it's a staff member or a student, but the clinic said that person is not in school now, and they are being treated. 

The Tuberculosis Clinic at the Public Health Institute at Denver Health (PHIDH) is working with Denver's health department and Denver Public Schools to educate faculty and students about TB. 

TB is spread between people through the air, and typically takes several hours of exposure for a person to be at risk of becoming infected. Most people who are exposed to TB do not become infected. 

Typical symptoms of TB are a chronic cough, fever or night sweats. A person who is infected with TB, but is not sick, can be treated to eliminate the infection to prevent them from getting sick in the future. 

"The development of infection is much longer (for TB)," said Dr. Bill Burman with the PHIDH. "COVID-19 developed in four days after exposure. TB develops weeks to months later."

Burman said there is unlikely to be much transmission and he's confident their process will work to identify infections and treatment. 

They are in the process of identifying people who may have been exposed and will test those individuals this week. 

"Importantly, we will have this opportunity to treat anyone who has developed an initial infection," he said. "They are not contagious, and we can prevent them from ever developing active TB."

Burman said there is no risk for transmission now since the person is not in school. He encouraged people to go to school as normal.



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