Someone at C.E Williams Middle School may have been exposed to tuberculosis, a serious and contagious lung disease. Overall, parents tell News 2 they are pleased with the way the situation has been handled at Williams, but they are concerned their students may have caught this airborne disease.
One parent, Callie Watford, says, “I mean, it’s definitely a concern, but I’m not freaking out.”
Parents at Williams Middle in West Ashley got one of two letters home on Thursday. One tells parents someone at the school has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, but their child was not exposed to it. Another tells parents there is a good chance their child was exposed to the disease.
Another parent, Stacie Spaulding, says, “As much as they can’t tell you who the student is, of course most of the children do know,m and based on that my daughter said that she had not come in contact with this person at all. They don’t share the same classrooms and they don’t see each other at all, even in passing.”
But parents are concerned about the school’s tight quarters.
One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, says, “You have restrooms, you have lunch room, you have even just walking the the hallways. So I feel like if it’s airborne, and I know the child’s not longer here, but we don’t know how long the child had it while he was here, we didn’t get any details as far as that’s concerned.”
Doctors say the risk to students is low.
Dr. Edward Galaid, Medical Director of Occupational Health at Roper St. Francis Hospital, says, “I think that precaution, and good public health practices is the best way to describe what the state’s response has been for this. Again, the risk of infection for children, students, and staff that were around the infected individual is relatively low.”
But DHEC will be offering TB tests to students at school on Tuesday in the form of a blood test or skin test.
Dr. Galaid says, “If this was my child, I could not hesitate in getting them the blood test or the skin test. It’s just the proper thing to do. Again, the risk is very, very small, it’s a precaution that we’re taking, but it’s an opportunity for prevention.”
Symptoms of tuberculosis include: a bad cough lasting three weeks or longer, chest pain, coughing up blood, weakness, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, and night sweats. Doctors say if someone is diagnosed with TB, it can be treated with antibiotics.
Last year, 11 cases of tuberculosis were diagnosed in Charleston County. When you factor in population size, doctors say this rate of cases is about the same as the rest of the state and country.