Infectious disease doctor urges testing after TB case at Wilson Central H.S.


The State Health Department has identified one person who tested positive for active Tuberculosis.

According to the Wilson Central High School’s Parent Teacher Student Organization, the person who tested positive is a student.

TB was once a feared, uncurable, deadly disease.

“Our whole concept of Tuberculosis has changed,” said Dr. William Schaffner. “Now, we have good medicine that can treat TB safely and effectively.”

Dr. Schaffner, who’s spent his career specializing in infectious diseases, said because of this treatment, cases are now few and far between in Tennessee.

“We still have some cases. They all have to be investigated,” said Schaffner. “So it’s a rather unusual event in this day and age.”

The High School organization said the district is urging TB testing for around 450 students and staff at Wilson Central H.S. who may have been exposed to the student.

“This is someone who has TB bacteria in their body that’s making them ill,” said Schaffner. “It’s usually in the lung and causing some damage in the lung.”

Schaffner said close contact with a TB-positive person speaking and coughing spreads the bacteria.

But, those who contract the disease likely won’t show any signs or symptoms.

“They’re perfectly fine,” said Schaffner. “The TB bacteria is in their body and if you do a skin test, it turns positive. We call that latent TB.”

Schaffner said it’s crucial that those exposed take the TB test.

“Listen carefully to what the health department and school are telling you,” he said. “The situation is under control. We will work all this out, find out who needs treatment for latent TB, provide that with supervision, and when treatment is complete, the problem is finished. It’s over. You don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

According the organization, the student who tested positive for TB has been out of school since being identified.

The district adds exposed students and staff will need to be tested by the state health department next week Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at Wilson Central H.S.

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