SOUTHPORT, Ind. (April 23, 2015) - Parents of Southport High School students received a voice message on Wednesday, informing them of a tuberculosis exposure at the school. A group of students and staff were exposed by a student.
The message was from Principal Barbara Brouwer. Listen to the message below:
The message said that students directly exposed will receive a direct call from Brouwer. Parent Tracy Huffman was one.
“They said that the child hasn't been in school for three weeks and how it was contacted by my son was the classroom, that they were in the classroom together," Huffman said.
Huffman said she called the school to find out more information. The school told her the infected student hasn't been in class for more than three weeks. Huffman was outraged to learn the school may have known about the exposure for some time.
“I just want to know why they waited so long," Huffman said.
The school remained open on Thursday and didn't have plans to close on Friday. Parents say they're concerned the classrooms and busses aren't getting the cleaning they need. Parents say there's more questions than answers. Perry Township Schools referred all questions to The Marion County Health Department.
The school has set up times next week for students and staff to get tested for TB. There's also walk-in appointments available at The Marion County Health Department.
Huffman said her son had to get chest x-rays and TB testing because of the severity of the infection. She said the x-rays will provide immediate results. She is concerned her son may have been infected because he's been coughing and showing signs of a possible cold.
“It makes me pretty scared. I could've had it for three or four weeks already and not even know it and not know it until it’s too late. You always got that chance, so I mean, it’s pretty scary," said student Brady Akers.
The Marion County Health Department said they were notified of the infected student on Wednesday, April 22nd. That's when they notified the school.
Department Spokesperson, Curt Brantingham said anyone who is concerned about being exposed is encouraged to get their health tested by their health care provider.
"The clinic(s) to be offered to students/staff will focus on those who have been identified as being the most at-risk for any possible exposure," Brantingham said.
Those students and staff are ones that came directly in contact with the infected student.
"Based on our contact investigation, we are focusing on students and staff who were most likely to be in contact with the student who tested positive – based on how TB spreads. Again, everyone is encouraged to be aware of symptoms and to see a health care provider immediately if they experience any symptoms such as: a feeling of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats; also coughing, chest pain, and the coughing up of blood," explained Brantingham.