News Release: Tuberculosis Investigation at Robert E. Lee High School


December 27, 2013

Health Department Concludes TB Investigation

The Health Department has concluded its tuberculosis (TB) investigation at Robert E. Lee High School.  While a number of individuals tested positive for latent TB infection, no new cases of active TB disease were identified.

Additional details are available in a Summary Report. PDF icon

August 2, 2013

Media Availability

The Fairfax County Health Department will begin operating TB screening and testing clinics at Robert E. Lee High School at 8 a.m. on Saturday, August 3.  While there is no new information to report, Fairfax County Director of Health Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu will be available to answer questions from members of the media on Saturday, August 3, 11 – 11:30 a.m. only.  Members of the media will not have access to the clinic.

When:  Saturday, August 3; 11 to 11:30 a.m. only.

Where:  Robert E. Lee High School (6540 Franconia Rd, Springfield, VA 22150).  Members of the media should meet at the main vehicle entrance to the school’s parking lot, near the school’s sign. (In the event of rain, this media availability will be held in the main lobby of the high school.)

Who:  Gloria Addo-Ayensu, MD, MPH, Fairfax County Director of Health

Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu explains the expansion of the Lee High School TB investigation to reporters.


July 22, 2013 (Updated 4:30 p.m.)

Health Director Statement

The Health Department recognizes that there may be some concerns about how the expansion of the TB investigation at Lee High School will impact school activities. Fairfax County Health Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu would like to convey to the Lee High School community that "there is no reason to restrict activities or attendance at Lee High School because of the expansion. All activities at the school can continue as usual and Lee High School students who are undergoing testing can continue to participate in all activities."

Lee High School parents who have questions may call the Health Department's call center at 703-267-3511.

July 22, 2013 (9:26 a.m.)

Update: Lee High School TB Investigation

The Fairfax County Health Department is expanding the tuberculosis (TB) contact investigation that was initiated at Robert E. Lee High School in June after three individuals in the school were diagnosed with active TB disease. The Health Department now recommends screening and testing for TB infection for all Lee High School 2012-2013 students, faculty, and support staff. In addition, approximately 20 others have been identified as meeting the Health Department’s exposure criteria, which is based on having spent a significant amount of time in the school on multiple occasions and in places where TB transmission may have occurred during the 2012-2013 school year. The Health Department, in coordination with Fairfax County Public Schools, sent approximately 1,900 letters on July 19 to inform the school community.

While there is no ongoing transmission of TB at Lee High School and the vast majority of the Lee High School community was not at high risk of exposure to TB, the Health Department—out of an abundance of caution—concluded that the expansion is prudent based on multiple factors that included a higher-than-expected skin test positivity rate among those who have been tested so far. This expanded level of testing will ensure that everyone who may have been exposed to TB is identified.

The Health Department recommends that only individuals who received a letter plan to attend one of the special clinics that will be held at Lee High School on the dates listed below. Because the TB test is a two-step process, it is important that when selecting a date for the skin test, the individual is also able to return on the corresponding date for a health care worker to determine whether the test is positive or negative. Returning any other time will require that the skin test be repeated.

TB TESTING SCHEDULE AT LEE HIGH SCHOOL

  • Skin Test:  Saturday, August 3, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Return for Results:  Monday, August 5, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Skin Test:  Saturday, August 3, 12 – 6 p.m. – Return for Results:  Tuesday, August 6, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Skin Test:  Monday, August 5, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Return for Results:  Wednesday, August 7, 12 – 4 p.m.
  • Skin Test:  Tuesday, August 6, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Return for Skin Test:  Thursday, August 8, 12 – 4 p.m.
  • Skin Test:  Saturday, August 10, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Return for Results:  Monday, August 12, 12 – 4 p.m.

More information about TB from the CDC.

Stay Informed

June 21, 2013

Update: Lee High School TB Investigation

The Fairfax County Health Department recognizes that some members of the public—especially those who have a connection to Robert E. Lee High School—may have concerns about the possibility of ongoing exposure to tuberculosis (TB).  Currently, the Health Department has asked approximately 430 people who have been identified as potentially exposed to individuals with active TB disease in the school to get tested at special clinics being held in the high school June 21 and June 24-28.  These 430 individuals are being tested at this special clinic because they met the time and proximity TB exposure criteria that the Health Department is using in this investigation.

Only those Robert E. Lee High School individuals who received a letter from the Health Department need to attend the special clinics at the school. Families who received a letter from the Health Department should call 703-267-3511, TTY 711 to make an appointment. Families who have questions about the investigation or TB may also call for information. Individuals that did not receive a letter from the Health Department are not considered at risk of exposure and therefore do not need to be tested; however, individuals that want to be tested may do so with their health care provider or at one of the Health Department’s five District Offices.

Community members who have attended graduation celebrations and other events involving Robert E. Lee High School students and faculty do not meet the exposure criteria and therefore do not need to be tested. There is no ongoing risk of exposure to TB at Robert E. Lee High School as a result of the current contact investigation.

Through the course of the current investigation the Health Department has determined that one of the individuals with active TB disease was not exposed in Robert E. Lee High School—the individual was exposed somewhere else and the timing of the diagnosis was a coincidence. The investigation of all three individuals is ongoing.

June 20, 2013

Fairfax County Health Department Tuberculosis Investigation

The Health Department, in cooperation with Fairfax County Public Schools, initiated a broad tuberculosis (TB) investigation at Robert E. Lee High School to identify people who may have had contact with three individuals at the school who have been diagnosed with active TB disease. The first individual was diagnosed in December 2012 and an investigation was initiated and completed at that time. Two additional individuals from the same school were diagnosed with active TB disease in June of this year.

Each year, the Health Department identifies about 90 people who have active TB disease; however, because these two new cases occurred in the same school, the Health Department decided to reopen the December case. All three cases are being reviewed together to determine if there is any association between them.

On June 17, letters were mailed to all Robert E. Lee High School students and faculty informing them of the Health Department’s TB investigation. Although our investigation is ongoing, our initial assessment indicates that approximately 430 students and faculty may have been exposed. Those students and faculty received a second letter identifying them as at risk of exposure; therefore they require testing. The Health Department will operate special clinics at Robert E. Lee High School June 21 and June 24-28 to test only those who were notified by letter.

Members of the general public do not need to take any action. Again, only the individuals who received letters advising them to get tested need to attend the clinics at Robert E. Lee High School.

About one third of the world’s population has latent TB infection, which means they have been infected by the TB germs but do not feel sick or have any symptoms and cannot spread the germs to others.  Fairfax County is a diverse community so it is expected that some people in the community have latent TB infection. People who have latent TB infection and do not receive treatment risk becoming ill with active TB disease, which is contagious. For this reason, the Fairfax County Health Department strongly encourages individuals who have latent TB infection to take preventative treatment. TB is preventable and curable if all prescribed medications are taken properly.

Symptoms of active TB disease include a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer; pain in the chest; coughing up blood or sputum; weakness or fatigue; weight loss; no appetite; chills; fever; and sweating at night.

To learn more about TB visit www.cdc.gov/tb.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Glen Barbour
Public Safety Information Officer, Fairfax County Health Department
703-246-8635, TTY 711
glen.barbour@fairfaxcounty.gov


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