Middle School Families Concerned Following TB Scare - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/02/06

Middle School Families Concerned Following TB Scare

For the second time this week, a possible case of tuberculosis is being investigated in our area (Health Officials Respond to Possible Case of TB; Tuberculosis Information, Screenings Offered After Second Suspected Case). Yesterday, we learned that there is an eighth grader at Mercer Middle School who may have contracted TB.

We talked with a handful of parents, grandparents and students, and they're a little worried about finding out if it's going to be more than just a couple isolated cases.

At Mercer, students have probably learned about people like Doc Holliday, Eleanor Roosevelt and George Orwell, just three famous people who died of tuberculosis. But those same students probably don't realize it can still be a problem.

"A lot of kids don't know," said parent Renee Smart. "I talked to my daughter about it this morning and she didn't know what it was."

Several students we asked didn't know either. But now, those kids are in for a crash course with a TB scare at their school, right on the heels of another suspected case from a former employee of the Chick-Fil-A at Oglethorpe Mall.

"I think it's kind of scary, because the student they're talking about and the person at Chick-Fil-A, you don't know who they came in contact with," said grandparent Carrie Smart.

One thing that has parents worried is that school has let out by now, and even though Mercer officials are already trying to track down all the kids who could be in danger, it might not be easy. Grandparent Georgia Benton noted, "It worries me that it's popping up this time of year, because it's very hard to find the children."

But Russell Grosse, a teacher who had the eighth grader in question in his class, says as long as he keeps vigilant, he won't worry too much. "TB is treatable if you catch it early, and nobody here has any symptoms as far as we know, so we'll just get tested and just be safe."

Concerned parents can get information next Tuesday, June 6, at 6:30pm at Mercer Middle School. They are also offering free screening for eighth grade students immediately following the meeting, and on Wednesday, June 7, between 4pm and 7pm.

Students and staff will have to return to the school two days later to receive the results of their tests.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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