Health department, school system investigating tuberculosis case

Health department, school system investigating tuberculosis case

The Charles County Department of Health expanded its initial investigation of a tuberculosis (TB) case involving an individual at La Plata High School after learning the person also frequents the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center after school hours. The school system has identified a small group of people at Stethem who may have had exposure to the individual.

The school system will begin emailing and mailing exposure letters on Nov. 18 to staff, parents of students and any others who are thought to have had extended contact with the diagnosed individual. If parents or staff members do not receive an exposure letter, they do not need to be screened at this time.

So far, the school system has identified nearly 300 individuals for screening. Health care providers will conduct the screening at La Plata on Dec. 5 and at Stethem on Dec. 6. Nurses will read the tests two to three days later. Even if the first test is negative, a second test is needed to ensure a person is not infected with TB. The health department expects to conduct the second round of screenings about 12 weeks later, or after the school system’s winter break. The health department provides free TB tests to those people identified.

The school system is working with the health department to ensure there is no further risk at the school or center.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial illness that responds well to proper medical treatment. It is spread through the air, usually by coughing or sneezing. Generally, a person must have prolonged exposure to the person with TB in order to breathe in a sufficient number of TB germs to cause a TB infection. The disease cannot be transmitted by touching someone or by sharing eating utensils.

Questions about TB or health concerns should be directed to your family physician or the Charles County Department of Health’s Communicable Disease Control Program at 301-609-6900, ext. 6025, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Additional information about tuberculosis is available on the Department of Health website A fact sheet is also available on the school system website at

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 caring community schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

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