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California High School Tests 1,500 for TB

Update Date: Dec 21, 2013 09:53 AM EST

A high school in Southern California has tested over 1,500 students and faculty members for tuberculosis. The test was administered after one student fell ill with the bacterial infection last month. The student attended the high school from September to mid-November and is expected to make a full recovery.

Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which affects the lungs first before spreading to other organs in the body if the condition remains untreated. Tuberculosis is highly contagious, which is why testing the school and treating people immediately is vital.

"This is just the most recent step in the standard, medically accepted process for handling potential exposures," Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county's public health officer, said reported by FOX News. "We have required testing for everyone at the school as a precaution, even though the chance of the illness being passed from one person to another is remote."

"The entire school is being tested out of an abundance of caution," Kaiser added according to CNN.

According to the health officials, around 1,400 students were tested at Indio High School on Friday. Another 130 were tested on Monday. The health officials reported that 45 students had tested positive for the infection but until further tests are done, their cases cannot be confirmed as active TB. Students and staff who were not tested at the school would need to be tested by their own physicians. Before returning to the high school next year, all students and staff must present proof that they underwent a TB test. Despite the potential cases, the officials are not too worried about the infection spreading to nearby schools and communities.

"We have seen these things happen in other parts of the state and the world. We know how to treat them, and how to cure this disease," Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit told the Desert Sun. "And not everyone who tests positive is going to have a serious bout with this disease."

The officials believe that risk of the infection spreading is relatively low.

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