Information for Parents on Situation Involving Student with Tuberculosis at
Deer Valley High School
April 5, 2013
What is the situation?
A student at Deer Valley High School was diagnosed with active tuberculosis. The student is being
treated and is no longer infectious. Students who may have been exposed will be tested for TB
infection. TB is treatable and curable.
What is being done to assist students and staff who may have been exposed?
Public Health is working with Deer Valley High School to identify all students and staff who may have
been exposed to this student in shared classes and clubs. Deer Valley High officials sent letters to those
families informing them of the situation. Contra Costa Public Health will be offering blood tests to
students who may have been exposed. Alternatively, parents can take their child to their own provider,
and share TB test results with Contra Costa Public Health.
I thought there was a skin test for TB. Why a blood test rather than a skin test?
There are now two tests for TB infection: a TB skin test and a blood test. The blood test has many
advantages over the skin test. Most importantly, it is more accurate, especially in people who have had
a BCG vaccine (a TB vaccine commonly given in other countries). It is also easier because it requires only
one visit. A TB skin test is placed and then needs to be read at a later date.
Should everyone at Deer Valley High School be tested?
Public Health is NOT recommending testing for everyone at the school, because not everyone at Deer
Valley High was exposed. Public Health is recommending testing only for those students and staff who
may have been exposed, meaning that they were in classes or clubs with the student, sharing the same
indoor air for long periods of time. However, if parents are concerned, they can contact their own
provider. If the provider has questions, Public Health offers medical consultation for TB questions to all
When will students who have possibly been exposed receive TB testing at Deer Valley?
Public Health will offer testing for TB infection on April 11th. We are testing students to see whether any
of them have TB infection, meaning they have the germ in their body. Persons with TB infection are not
sick, have no symptoms, and cannot spread TB to other people. However, they do need further testing
and treatment to prevent the development of TB disease.
Is Public Health going to come back and do testing again at Deer Valley High School?
Testing will be done again in May. The date of this testing will be provided to students who need a
When did parents get notified?
We began our investigation immediately upon being notified that this student might have TB on March
19th. We confirmed the TB diagnosis on March 25th. We determined on April 1st that it was necessary,
based on the initial results of the investigation, to contact the school, notify parents and test other
Was the student infectious at school? For how long?
The student could have been infectious at school starting early January 2013.
What if someone is infected with TB? How soon will they get sick?
Most people who have TB infection never get sick from TB disease. The lifetime risk of progressing from
TB infection to getting TB disease is only about 10%. However, if TB infection does progress to TB
disease; it takes at least 3 months. It is important that someone who has TB infection take medication
to prevent them from getting sick with TB disease in the future.
If someone is infected with TB, how will they know it?
People with TB infection feel normal and have no symptoms. Following an exposure, the only way to
know if you have TB infection is with a TB skin test or blood test.
Could there be other people at Deer Valley who have TB disease and are sick?
It is unlikely that other students have TB disease. The symptoms of TB disease include having a cough
that lasts more than 3 weeks, and also having a fever, night sweats and unintended weight loss. Only
persons with TB disease are infectious, and can spread it to others.
How is TB spread?
TB is spread through the air. The person with TB disease coughs the germs into the air. The air and the
germs are then inhaled by others. It generally takes at least 8 hours over a period of time of breathing
infected air in close contact with the person with TB disease to get TB infection, but it could take longer,
depending on infectiousness of the TB patient, the size of the room, and the air flow.
How is TB treated?
TB is treatable and curable with medication.
More information about tuberculosis is available on our website cchealth.org/tb/ or by calling