TB test results delayed: Parents, officials say tests mostly negative
by Hilary Butschek
June 04, 2014 04:00 AM | 2208 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — In a deviation from a previous announcement, Cobb & Douglas Public Health decided not to announce results from tuberculosis tests it performed at Marietta High School on Friday.

Five days after Marietta High School held free testing in response to one person at the school testing positive for the infection, some parents are still being contacted with results, said Pam Mashburn, the executive assistant to the health director.

“They’re still tabulating and trying to get in touch with everyone with the results,” Mashburn said. “There is nothing new.”

The department now says parents can expect to hear results Thursday.

Representatives from the school district also said they had not heard any test results Tuesday. Superintendent Emily Lembeck said she had contacted everyone she knew, including Principal Leigh Colburn, but had no results.

“No new news today,” Lembeck said.

One parent, who requested anonymity, said she knew of one student who had tested positive on the TB skin test, but it didn’t mean the person was

a carrier of the disease.

“Don’t freak out just because you test positive, you’re a long way from testing positive for the disease,” the parent said. “You’re not a carrier unless you actively have a case.”

Testing for TB is a three-step process. The skin test, which was required for 500 members of the school, is the first step.

The skin test shows whether someone has been in contact with the TB bacteria, but someone can test positive on the skin test if they’ve been vaccinated for TB, the parent said.

If the skin test comes back positive, Valerie Crow, director of communications at Cobb & Douglas Public Health, said the person will need to take a blood test.

If that test is positive, a chest X-ray is done to see if there is any active TB in the person’s lungs. If the X-ray is negative, the person will be offered preventative medication; and if it is positive, he or she will be treated for the infection, Crow said.

Two other parents whose children were a part of the group called in for mandatory testing said their children tested negative for the infection.

Debbie Lancaster, an insurance account executive at Little & Smith, Inc. who lives in Marietta, said she was not worried when she heard the news.

“I felt like we got enough information without it being alarming,” Lancaster said.

Her son, Josh Lancaster, is a rising senior tested negative.

“We went on Friday for the testing, and it was very smooth and organized,” Debbie Lancaster said. “Everybody I’ve heard of has been negative.”

Keli Crowe, mother of Will Crowe, a rising senior at the high school, said he also tested negative.

“Everybody was worried, but it seems like everything is OK,” Keli Crowe, who lives in Marietta and teaches at First Presbyterian Church Preschool, said. “It was just a bad situation, but it all turned out OK. I think we were lucky.”

Marietta school board members said they had not heard a word from parents about the matter.

“It’s been very quiet. I haven’t heard from any parents,” said Randy Weiner, school board chairman.

Lainie Adams, an executive assistant at the National Guard Center who lives in Kennesaw, said she was not worried. Her daughter was not required to be tested and has not gone in for a test, she said.

“I think everything was explained well and clearly,” Adams said. “I feel like everything was handled well.”

Board member Tom Cheater said although he had not received any complaints, he had talked to parents in the community.

“I have seen a few parents, but I’ve had no negative feedback from anyone,” Cheater said. “The parents that I have talked to — they’ve said that the communication was very clear. It was on point. It was timely.”

Board member Irene Berens said she thinks the reason she hasn’t heard anyone complain is because they are satisfied with the process the school outlined to handle the testing.

“It seems to me that our parents seem to appreciate the fact that we’re taking every precaution,” Berens said. “I haven’t heard anything from anybody testing positive.”

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