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Tuberculosis reported at Montgomery County high school

Monday - 2/10/2014, 8:36am  ET

Watkins high school (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Students walk in to Watkins Mill High School Monday morning after a person who carried tuberculosis was at Watkins Mill High School between October 2013 and January 2014. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

Students react to news of TB at school

WTOP's Megan Cloherty reports.

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WASHINGTON -- A person at a Montgomery County high school has been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

The person who carried the disease was at Watkins Mill High School between October 2013 and January 2014 and is now being treated, ABC7 reports.

TB is a contagious illness that can affect a person's lungs, brain, kidneys and spine, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It can be fatal and is spread through the air, such as when a person coughs or sneezes. It is treatable with medications.

Montgomery County has a very high rate of TB, according to the state's Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, Montgomery County accounted for almost one-third of TB cases in the state.

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services encourages people with symptoms of TB to call the county's TB clinic at 240-777-1794. The department reports the symptoms of TB are: "cough for more than 3 weeks; fever or chills for more than three weeks; night sweats; unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more; or if an individual has had TB or been treated for TB, or coughing up blood."

Teachers sent students home with a letter on Thursday, ABC7 reports. Testing may not be effective for up to eight weeks after initial exposure, so late March is the soonest students and staff can be tested for TB.

In 2013, students at staff at Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, Va., were tested for tuberculosis after three students fell ill.

Here's a tweet from Watkins Mill High School's Twitter account containing an important TB fact sheet:

Montgomery County Public Schools cannot confirm anything else at this time. There are bout 1,425 students and 175 staff members at the school.

WTOP's Kathy Stewart contributed to this report.

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