Hickory Ridge HS students, staff may have been exposed to tuberculosis

Hickory Ridge High School (WSOC photo

HARRISBURG, N.C. - The principal at Hickory Ridge High School in Harrisburg sent a letter to parents saying that some staff and children at the school may have been exposed to tuberculosis.

A very small number of people are affected and the school is working closely with the Cabarrus Health Alliance to contact those who may have been exposed to the contagious, airborne disease, according the letter that was sent out Wednesday.

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"While it is important for the entire school to be aware of this exposure, a relatively small number of persons are likely to have been exposed, and no one is at immediate risk of any health problems," said principal Michelle Cline in the letter.

The Cabarrus Health Alliance said it sent notices on Thursday to about 85 students who rode the same bus as the infected student on Tuesday. Health officials said that those affected will receive appropriate testing and treatment.

But even though officials said a small number of people were exposed, talk about the confirmed case of TB dominated conversations around the school's campus.

"It was probably the talk of the class. Everybody talked about it," student Taylr Emert said.

Some students said that even teachers incorporated discussions about TB into their classwork.

TB can be spread by a cough, sneeze or even while talking.

Some students wondered how school officials could be so sure that no one else had contact with the student.

"Nobody knows if they are going to get it," student Rachel McCloskey said. "No one knows who got it or what's going on with it. They are just nervous about the whole situation."

But Tamara Staehler said that risk is low for most students and that just walking down the hall is not enough to warrant concern.

"This is a low risk exposure," Staehler said. "We are talking about, they are in a close proximity to the person for an extended amount of time."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said symptoms include a bad cough that last three weeks or longer, pain in the chest and coughing up blood.

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