20 people at Todd Beamer High School at risk for TB after one person diagnosed

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A doctor examines the x-rays of a tuberculosis (TB) patient (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – Twenty people at Todd Beamer High School have been advised to undergo testing for tuberculosis after somebody at the school was diagnosed with an active case of TB.

Due to privacy laws, the Federal Way School District officials couldn’t say whether the person was a student or staff member.

Seattle and King County Public Health emphasized that TB isn’t easily spread. It’s passed person-to-person through the air, but it’s much harder to spread than the cold or flu.

“It typically takes repeated and prolonged exposure in a confined indoor space to become infected with TB,” Public Health said in a release on its website. “Even in households with a contagious TB case, only about 1-in-3 close household contacts become infected.”

The 20 people were recommended to undergo screening “based on the amount of time they were exposed to the person with TB in indoor spaces.” If you’re not contacted by Public Health, you’re not considered to have been exposed.

The person who was exposed is receiving treatment and isn’t at risk for infecting others anymore. Antibiotic treatment typically takes 6-9 months.

Public Health says about two cases of TB are diagnosed in King County every week.

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