Dr. Robert Benjamin of the Alameda
County Public Health Department
addresses the Logan staff
Courier Staff Photo
By Beatrice Esteban, Courier Editor-in-Chief
Hundreds of Logan students and staff are at risk for exposure to tuberculosis upon discovery of an active case in a person associated with school, according to school officials.
Principal Amy McNamara called an emergency staff meeting at Logan’s new Performing Arts Center, held after last Friday’s annual Homecoming rally. In both the e-mail and announcement, the meeting’s purpose was not given.
At the meeting, McNamara told staff that a person “associated with the school” has a case of active TB. Although the individual’s identity was not released, McNamara said that the person is receiving treatment and is no longer on school premises.
Logan officials sent out a letter about the situation to staff and families Friday. An automated voicemail was also sent on Sunday.
The Alameda County Public Health Department is working with Logan to investigate and identify those significantly exposed to TB, according to Friday’s letter. The people affected will be notified in writing this Friday.
The letter also indicated that the investigation may conclude that additional students require testing. These students will also be notified on Friday. If a second letter is not received, the student will not require testing.
Individuals are determined for screening based on exposure, according to Sherri Willis, the department’s public information officer. Those who possibly say in a classroom, shared a car ride or had lunch with the individual may be at risk.
"It has to be an enclosed environment and a sustained exposure that would allow someone else to get those germs," she said.
Rick La Plante, New Haven Unified School District’s spokesman, stressed that it is unlikely that the TB will spread.
"This isn't a TB outbreak. This is one individual who's been identified with active TB disease," he said. "The chances of it spreading are very, very slim but if we're going to err, we're going to err on the side of caution. That's why we notified all parents of the incident, and that's why we're casting a pretty wide net of student and staff to be tested."
According to the Alameda County Public Health Department's web site, tuberculosis is a bacterial disease, spread person-to-person through the air. Symptoms include a persistent cough lasting more than two weeks, fatigue, weight or appetite loss, fever, chest pains and chills. Although TB is most common in people 25 and older, there were 36 cases in the 15- to 24-year-old range since 2007, according to the department's TB fact sheet.
"TB is curable and it's treatable, but it requires that you be tested promptly and that you get on medication," Willis said.
The school reported the incident to the county's health department in late September; the state was notified shortly after, according to Willis. In addition to the health department, the California Department of Public Health Tuberculosis Control Branch is also working on the investigation.
Dr. Robert Benjamin, acting director of the Alameda County Public Health Department's Division of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, spoke with school staff at another emergency meeting on Monday about TB statistics and recommendations about testing.
At last week's staff meeting, McNamara acknowledged that although she expected parents to worry, staff should not panic.
"There is no reason to hide it. It is what it is," she said. "We all need the adults on campus to be calm and rational about this."