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October 13, 2023
Dear West Craven High School Community,
Craven County Schools received notice on Wednesday, October 11, 2023, of a potential exposure, to a tuberculosis case, in an individual who last worked at West Craven High School in June of 2023. Once a school system has knowledge of this, they have a duty to inform. Parents were also notified on October 11, 2023, via letter from West Craven High School Principal, Montrell Lee. Since Craven County Schools issued their notice, Craven County Health Department staff have received several phone calls with questions and concerns regarding Tuberculosis (TB).
People want to know what their risk of exposure is and if they should be tested or not. I would like to reiterate that TB exposure is not an immediate risk to anyone’s health. TB is spread from person-to-person, but it is not an easy disease to catch; only 5-10% of people who are exposed to someone with contagious TB and develop a positive skin test or blood test will become sick with TB. Testing is important, because people with a positive skin test or blood test who are not sick, can be given effective medicine to prevent getting sick in the future.
The individual that tested positive for TB last worked at the school in June 2023. We are working with our State of North Carolina Tuberculosis Consultants, who have extensive experience working with these kinds of exposures. Unfortunately, TB tests can produce false positives so testing large groups of people who are at relatively low risk of exposure is not recommended. The best course of action is to only test those identified as close contacts of the positive individual.
Though there is no immediate public health risk from exposure, we are investigating the possible exposures and will inform staff and parents of students who need to be tested. Craven County Health Department is working closely with Craven County Schools to identify those individuals that need to be tested. These people will be contacted directly by the Craven County Health Department via letter and asked to be scheduled for testing. Letters are expected to go out today. If you are not contacted, you do not need to be tested at this time.
While it is important for the community to be aware of the case investigation, no one is at immediate risk of health problems related to this case and there is no further risk of exposure. Please be assured Craven County Health Department is working to provide notice to those impacted as quickly as possible. For more information or questions, contact Amber Tabarrini, Public Information Officer, at 252-636-4920 or explore online resources at: https://www.cdc.gov/tb/ or https://www.cdc.gov/tb/topic/basics/.
Scott Harrelson, MPA
Craven County Health Director