The state health department confirmed Wednesday that a former Stratford High School student has contracted a case of tuberculosis, prompting more than 1,700 pre-recorded emergency calls to parents Wednesday afternoon.
For more information
For more information about the tuberculosis case, Stratford High School parents can call the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, 1-800-898-DHEC (3432), or the school nurse, 820-4000.
Letters also have been sent home with 137 students that the school believes may have had close contact with the patient.
Parents who received a letter that their child may have come in contact with the patient are advised to get their student tested. Other parents received a general letter simply notifying them about the incident.
A spokeswoman for the school system clarified on Thursday that the patient is no longer enrolled as a Stratford High School student. The student’s last day at school was Nov. 25.
There are no other confirmed cases and no reason to believe the disease is widespread among the student population in Goose Creek, said Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Rodney Thompson.
“We have no idea if there will be more positive tests,” he said. “We’ll just follow DHEC’s lead as they monitor the situation.”
The teenage patient is hospitalized at Medical University Hospital.
Tuberculosis is a contagious disease that can be spread by air. Symptoms include severe cough, weakness and fever.
Catherine Templeton, director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, applauded the Berkeley County School District for responding promptly to the situation.
“This is how it’s supposed to work,” Templeton said. “It’s a good example of the right way to do it.”
Templeton was widely criticized about the way her agency handled a tuberculosis outbreak after a school janitor in Greenwood County contracted the disease last spring. In that case, the school system waited weeks for positive confirmation before informing parents that their children may have been exposed.
It was the school system’s decision to delay that information, not DHEC’s, Templeton said. The health department isn’t capable of notifying parents, she said.
“Even today, I can’t notify the parents. I don’t know who they are. I don’t have their email addresses. I don’t have their phone numbers,” she said.
DHEC spokesman Mark Plowden said two adults and 10 children were positively diagnosed and treated for tuberculosis in Greenwood last year. More than 1,500 people in the community were tested.
The outbreak prompted a report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a legislative hearing.
Editor’s Note: The patient with a confirmed tuberculosis diagnosis in Charleston is a former Stratford High School student. A earlier version of this story characterized the patient as a current student, based on information reported by the health department and the Berkeley County school system. The article has been updated to reflect this clarification.