Nearly all students and employees at Coeur d’Alene High School were tested for tuberculosis Monday during a massive clinic set up by Panhandle Health District.
Public health officials planned a two-day clinic to test everyone at the school after health workers confirmed last week that a hospitalized Coeur d’Alene High student has tuberculosis.
Students were called out of class in alphabetical order Monday and told to report to the auditorium, where 15 nurses were stationed to inject a small amount of tuberculin solution under each student’s skin.
By 1 p.m., they were already calling students with last names beginning with the letter Z, said Susan Cuff, health district spokeswoman.
“It’s going so well, we’re going to get through the whole student body today,” she said.
By the end of the school day, 1,450 students and employees had been tested.
Another 200 stragglers are expected to be tested today, Cuff said.
The entire student body and staff will be called back to the auditorium Thursday and Friday to have their injection sites examined for a reaction that indicates TB antibodies. The information will serve as a baseline, Cuff said.
A second test will be administered in three months.
“Anyone who might have been exposed in late September or the first part of October likely would not show reaction to the skin test,” she said.
“When we do it in three months, we can compare those tests with the test we do now, and we’ll be able to see if there’s any changes.”
The student with TB attended school until the middle of the October, Cuff said.
The student was believed to have caught TB while out of the country, but health officials would not say anything more specific.
The student is expected to fully recover and is responding to antibiotics, Cuff said.
School officials sent home packets of information on tuberculosis and the testing, and with the help of parent volunteers, mailed packets of information to 1,500 student households Friday, said Principal Steve Casey.
In an effort to calm students, Casey had his own test videotaped, and it was broadcast into all the classrooms Monday morning.
“A couple kids were a little nervous, apprehensive,” Casey said.
“Of course, a lot of kids were telling stories about the size of the needles. … For the most part it went really well.”
Casey said he hasn’t had any calls from concerned parents.
“It’s been business as usual,” he said. “I hope that translates into they think we’re on top of it.”
Tuberculosis is rare in Idaho, occurring on average 12 times a year.
Symptoms include a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, chest pain, coughing up blood or phlegm from deep inside the lungs, weight loss, fatigue, lack of appetite, chills and fever.
It is spread by coughing, sneezing, laughing or singing, but infectiousness depends on how close the contact is with the infected person and the length of contact.