Additional testing will take place after nearly three dozen students and staff at a West Texas school tested positive for tuberculosis, according to public health officials.
The El Paso Department of Public Health ordered tests for 163 students and eight staff members at Frank Macias Elementary School after an active case of tuberculosis was discovered at the school last month. Of the 150 or so people who have been tested, 29 children and six staff members tested positive for the infectious bacterial disease.
It's unclear how many of the infected people are contagious. More testing is needed to determine if any of the cases are active.
"We need to stress to parents not to be concerned that they already have the active disease," said local pediatrician Hector Ocaranza. "They may have been exposed before and that's why they react positive."
All of the people who tested positive for tuberculosis will undergo additional screenings. The health department will provide medication to anyone with an active case of tuberculosis.
"It's important to note that children under the age of 10 rarely transmit tuberculosis," said Bruce Parsons, assistant health director for the City of El Paso Department of Public Health.
Another round of testing will begin Wednesday for 40 more children and the school's entire staff of about 100 adults. The testing is expected to be complete by the end of the week.
Health officials took blood samples from about 170 adults Monday to test for tuberculosis exposure at the Dismas Charities halfway house after a person associated with the facility tested positive. The results are expected early next week.
Last year, 44 cases of tuberculosis were identified in the El Paso area.