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Allegheny Co. Health Department confirms active tuberculosis case in student at Pittsburgh school

PITTSBURGH — The Allegheny County Health Department has confirmed an active case of tuberculosis in a student at Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8 in Lawrenceville.

The student is currently not in school and is receiving medication to treat the illness, according to the health department. They are expected to return to normal activities in the near future.

Click here to read more about TB from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The health department is identifying people who may have been in close contact with the student to ensure they are evaluated, tested, and treated appropriately.

“There’s absolutely no reason for the general public or for parents at the school to worry. This is not an emergency. People should not go running to the emergency department to get tested,” Dr. Kristen Mertz, of the Allegheny County Health Department, said.

TB is an infectious bacterial disease that is spread only through the air from one person to another. TB cannot be spread through food or drink, through clothing, or through skin contact, such as shaking hands or hugging. Also, it cannot be spread via surfaces, according to the health department. The only way to contract the disease is to be extremely close to an infected person when they cough, sneeze, sing, or talk, and you breathe in the bacteria.

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The department said anyone should seek medical attention if they believe they may be ill. Symptoms of TB can include a cough of longer than three weeks, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, chills, fever and coughing up blood.

Tuberculosis is preventable and curable and is typically treated for six-to-nine months with antibiotics. A person with TB will become non-infectious within a few days to weeks of effective treatment and will be able to return to normal activities without risk to others while completing treatment, according to the health department.

The ACHD, Pittsburgh Public Schools and the TB Division of the Pennsylvania Department of Health will continue to work closely to ensure all precautions are being taken at Arsenal 6-8.