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TB investigation wrapping up

One student may have tested positive at BCC

STAFF WRITER

BARSTOW • As reports of tuberculosis sweep Southern California, investigation is wrapping up into a TB case at Barstow Community College, officials said.

Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare with the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health said test results have so far provided reason to be optimistic — but cautiously so.

One individual might have tested positive after being possibly exposed, Ohikhuare said, referencing recent results, and the investigation will continue until their status is positively determined.

If it happens to be another case of active TB, the Department of Public Health will then look into its impact, which starts with identifying students who were in prolonged proximity to the individual. They would then work outward — friends, family, coworkers, etc.

Cases of TB in San Bernardino County are sporadic, Ohikhuare said. However, officials at College of the Desert in Palm Desert and Cal Poly Pomona have reported definite and possible cases at the colleges, respectively, in just the last week.

The one point Ohikhuare emphasized is that the public shouldn’t worry.

“There is no reason to alarm the community,” he said. “Just because you came in contact with the (originally diagnosed student) doesn’t mean you will catch tuberculosis.”

Still, the coast won’t be clear until the investigation is finalized — something he expects to be concluded soon.

The case appears to have originated from Orange County, he explained. Public health officials there alerted county health officials here of the student’s diagnosis after the student had moved, he said.

In turn, the Department of Public Health notified BCC and the two began to work together on a containment strategy.

Approximately 190 students in close contact with the active TB-diagnosed student were notified late last month, Ohikhuare said. Individuals who responded to the notifications were administered free skin tests on March 4.

BCC students return to school from spring break Monday.

Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.


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