C.E. Williams Middle School TB Investigation
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is conducting a disease investigation at C.E. Williams Middle School in Charleston, as an individual associated with the school has tested positive for tuberculosis (TB). Recently, some students and staff were possibly exposed to the TB germ. DHEC is working with the school to investigate possible exposures, notify directly individuals who may have been potentially exposed, and perform TB testing, if indicated.
April 28, 2016:
DHEC is working closely with school officials to identify and test those individuals who may have been exposed to the TB germ. DHEC is also coordinating with school officials on tuberculosis education and testing.
Staff and parents of students potentially affected are being notified by letter of the possible exposure to TB. The letters, being sent home with students today, include a consent form to receive a TB screening test at the school.
DHEC's investigation is focused on the close contacts of the confirmed case.
No information suggests a risk to the broader community at this time.
If parents or staff members have questions or concerns, they can call the DHEC hotline at 1-855-472-3432.
*Note to reporters and editors: Due to federal privacy restrictions, DHEC is unable to provide additional information concerning any individual, including details about physical condition, possible hospitalization, age, sex, and residence. Information resulting from this investigation will be provided as it is confirmed, and in accordance with state and federal laws.
Facts about TB
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease found primarily in the lungs. It is spread from person to person through the air. Individuals who have tuberculosis in their lungs cough the bacteria into the air and others become infected by breathing in the bacteria. These individuals now have latent TB infection. Without treatment for latent TB infection, approximately 10 percent of the individuals who become infected will develop tuberculosis disease sometime in their lifetime. The remaining 90 percent of the individuals with latent TB carry the bacteria for a lifetime without developing the disease.
- Tuberculosis information from DHEC (en Espanol)
- Tuberculosis from CDC
- TB Infection vs TB Disease (click image to view PDF)
Is there a cure for TB?
Yes, TB is curable using a prescribed course of antibiotics. TB disease can be treated by taking several drugs for six to 12 months. It is very important that people who have TB disease finish the medicine, and take the drugs exactly as prescribed. If you stop taking the drugs too soon, you can become sick again. If you do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs.
FAQs about this Investigation
What is DHEC's role in the investigation?
During a potential TB exposure, DHEC will complete a contact investigation, evaluation, and treatment, if indicated, for any individual that is infected with TB.
How does the contact investigation work?
During a contact investigation, trained health department staff determines which individuals have been exposed by visiting all the environments where the person with TB has been, and evaluates each site to determine how the air was circulated.
Who is at risk?
Individuals who have been around the person with TB disease for an extended period of time are at-risk of being infected with the TB germ. Our disease investigators have identified those individuals, and they have been notified of their possible exposure and need for testing. If you have not been advised to undergo testing, we do not believe you to be at-risk of exposure at this time.
How many TB cases do we typically see each year (SC/US)?
In South Carolina we had 112 TB cases in 2013, 79 in 2014, and 104 in 2015. In the United States, there were 9,582 cases in 2013 and 9,412 cases in 2014.
1/3 of the people worldwide are infected with TB. In South Carolina, approximately 150,000 are infected with the tuberculosis germ. In the last five years in S.C., we have had an average of 111 TB disease cases each year.