NORTH WINDHAM, CT (WFSB) - A case of tuberculosis has prompted school officials in Windham to take action.
Windham Public Schools said the case was confirmed at the Charles H. Barrows STEM Academy in North Windham.
A letter was sent to parents on Wednesday saying a plan of action is in place, in accordance with guidelines from the state Department of Public Health and local health authorities.
"The affected individual is being treated at this time and there is no risk of additional exposure to any students or staff at this time," wrote Patricia Sulk, director of health for the North Central District Health Department and principal Timothy Maclure.
The letter informed parents that it usually takes 8 hours of close contact in a small room for tuberculosis to be transmitted.
"A healthy person cannot contract TB from casual exposure such as passing in a hall or sitting in a cafeteria for an hour," Sulk and Maclure said.
The two said the risk that another child has become infected as a result of the exposure was very small.
However, state health officials recommend the testing of all students and staff who were in any class or after-school activity with the individual during the time of exposure.
"If testing is indicated for your child, you will be contacted via another letter within the next week," Sulk and Maclure wrote.
They said testing is recommended to take place now and in 8 to 10 weeks.
District officials said that although families may opt to have their preferred provider or doctor conduct this test, a clinic will take place on May 28 and May 29 at Barrows during school hours.
A national expert said tuberculosis is a bacteria that can spread but it's not easy to catch.
"Tuberculosis is not that infectious, so we’re not talking about measles. It requires being exposed to somebody who is sick for a prolonged period of time. Most healthy people who are exposed to somebody with tuberculosis will not be infected," said Lynn Sosa, Tuberculosis Program Coordinator for the state's Dept. of Public Health.
A cough, weight loss, night sweats, and a fever are just some of the symptoms.
"Representatives from [DPH and the local health district] will join school officials in hosting at health school community information forum on Thursday, May 23 at 6 p.m.," Windham Public Schools wrote on its website. "We invite all families to attend that are seeking additional information."
The Department of Public Health said they are coordinating a response together with the North Central Health District and Windham Public Schools on identifying persons who may have been recently exposed to tuberculosis.
“Together with local health officials, we have determined that currently there is no ongoing TB exposure at the school,” Sosa said. “More information will be provided to parents next week specifically addressing priority individuals who are recommended to be tested for the disease. School and health officials will also be offering parents an informational meeting to address any questions or concerns they have, including when testing will be provided. There are very few reported cases of Tuberculosis every year, but it is a public health issue we take very seriously in conjunction with our local health frontline partners.”
More on tuberculosis, including the state's guidelines, can be found on the Department of Public Health's website here.