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Tuberculosis scare at Suffolk County school

October 11, 2011 2:29:25 PM PDT
This was no normal dismissal at Commack High School with word of the dangerous disease that might have infected hundreds of students.

"It makes me very concerned," one parent said.

"They didn't say if it was a student or a teacher just that the person is out of the school," said another.

Parents received robo-calls and letters in the mail warning them of the potentially dangerous exposure to tuberculosis.

Officials say someone in this community has been walking around with an active and highly contagious infection, for months!

"You should not ignore symptoms if they're not getting better," Suffolk County Health Commissioner James Tomarken said.

Tomarken says this is what happens if you do ignore those symptoms. His department is now piecing together a list of people who may have been exposed to the patient, who probably has suffered from what seems like a very bad flu, whose symptoms include a persistent cough, night sweats, a high fever and exhaustion.

In this case, officials say the patient in question has been exhibiting these symptoms since April. That means six months of exposure to as many as four hundred people.

"If they coughed in close proximity or sneezed and you were quite close and could inhale the droplets, that's how you contract it," Tomarken said.

You can be exposed to TB, but never develop symptoms. County health officials plan to test anyone here they deem to have had close contact with the patient. That could be someone who either was misdiagnosed or never saw a doctor to begin with.

The county Health Department will hold meetings with parents on Thursday and Friday night in the high school auditorium.

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ONLINE:

Commack School District or call 631-787-2200.


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