Single case of tuberculosis identified at B.C. high school

·2 min read
A case of tuberculosis has been identified at New Westminster Secondary School. (CBC - image credit)
A case of tuberculosis has been identified at New Westminster Secondary School. (CBC - image credit)

An active tuberculosis (TB) case has been identified at a B.C. school, prompting the local health authority to notify people who may have been exposed to the disease.

On March 10, Fraser Health issued exposure notices to some staff and students at New Westminster Secondary School, informing them of their risk and next steps to get tested.

The health authority could not identify whether it was a student or staff member that was infected or how many people may have been exposed, citing privacy concerns. However, Medical Health Officer Dr. Jing Hu said the person has been in isolation since they were diagnosed and will remain so until they are not infectious.

Hu said that testing clinics are being set up to test those exposed.


For TB to spread, one must be in regular, close contact with the infected individual, Hu said.

"It is not easily spread."

She said right now, there is no risk to the public, and staff and students should feel safe returning to class after spring break.

Up to 300 cases in B.C. per year

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says there are up to 300 new diagnoses of active TB each year.

TB typically lives in the lungs but can be present in any part of the body. It spreads from person to person by air, typically through coughing or sneezing.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills, loss of appetite, weakness and fatigue.

But not all who contract TB become ill; some have a latent TB infection, which is asymptomatic and not infectious. Those who experience symptoms have active TB disease, which can spread.

Latent TB can become active TB at any time. The BCCDC says five to 10 per cent of people with latent TB will end up with active TB.

Hu said it's important to identify both so that preventative treatment can be administered.