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Jenks Public Schools confirms 2nd case of tuberculosis at high school

Posted at 9:49 AM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 20:30:53-05

JENKS, Okla. - Jenks Public Schools is offering a second round of tuberculosis tests after a second case of TB pops up in a week. 

The challenge for public health officials is to spread the word about an infectious disease while protecting the privacy of those infected. 

Jenks Public Schools officials say they believe the risk is "extremely low" for the majority of the high school's 2600 students. 

"This is kind of a big school, and I doubt it'll get anywhere," said student Antonio Huerta.

Huerta believes his chances of getting TB are relatively low. 

"It's one person in a big school, it's not going to affect that many people," he said. 

But now, several families are learning their child could have been exposed.

Tuberculosis is a serious disease that affects the lungs, causing severe pain and coughing. 

Eight Oklahomans died from the disease last year. 

A sneeze or even a close conversation can spread it through airborne droplets. 

Many who are infected show no symptoms at all, but for that's not always the case for some. 

"That is a long term treatment. You're looking at six to nine month or maybe more depending on the severity." said Tulsa Health Dept. Preventive Health Director Priscilla Haynes. 

The second case was confirmed Wednesday after a round of tests for those who had been in proximity to the first affected student. 

Jenks says they wrote more letters to families asking to test them for the illness for free. 

"It's only close, prolonged contact. So it's not one of those things where the entire high school needs to be scrubbed down or sanitized," said Jenks Public Schools Communications Director Rob Loeber. 

While the district says the risk to most of the student body is minimal, they offer testing to any student who wants it.

"We're trying to think about the students we have at school now, how we can get them tested in a timely fashing and how we can keep parents informed," said Loeber. 

Meanwhile, Huerta says he's ready to see his classmates bounce back. 

"I just hope they get better soon. It'd be hard to lose a face in school you hardly know but still," he said. 

The Tulsa Health Department will perform the tests. 

If a student did not receive a letter, they can still be tested for a small fee.

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