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Students to be tested for tuberculosis

NORCROSS - About 200 students at Norcross High School must be tested for tuberculosis, a public health official said Thursday.

Nurses from the Health Department will visit the school Friday to administer the TB test to students who were in close and continuous contact with a 10th-grader who has a confirmed case of the contagious disease, said Suleima Salgado, spokeswoman for the East Metro Health District, which covers Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties.

The students identified for the screening were in class or rode the bus with the student when she was believed to have been contagious, officials said. Because of federal health care privacy laws, neither the identity nor the immigration status of the student being treated for TB can be disclosed, Salgado said.

The parents of the students who need to be tested were notified by a letter sent home Wednesday from Norcross principal Jonathan Patterson. Parents must sign a consent form for students to be screened at the school.

"Although only about 7 percent of our students have been identified as needing testing, I did want to make sure all of our community was aware of the steps being taken as a precaution," Patterson wrote in an e-mail to parents. "Rest assured that Norcross High School will continue to work with the Health Department to monitor this situation closely."

During a TB test, a small amount of tuberculin purified protein derivative will be injected just under the skin. Health officials will return to the school Monday to read the results.

Screenings performed at the school are free. Identified students who are not tested at the school must visit a private physician or a health clinic to be screened, and the results must be reported to the Health Department.

"These steps are just being taken as a precaution," Salgado said. "We're working real closely with the school system to monitor the situation.

"We don't want (parents) to be worried," she added. "We're more than willing to answer any questions they have."

For more information, contact the Health Department at 678-442-6880.