A case of tuberculosis was reported Wednesday at a south Forsyth preschool and day care center.
Dave Palmer, spokesman for District 2 Public Health, confirmed one person had tested positive for active tuberculosis at Oak Grove Academy.
“The health department there in Forsyth County sent letters to 15 parents whose children may have come in contact with the person, and they will be offering testing for those 15 [today]," Palmer said.
The free testing will determine if the disease has spread to the children from the employee, who Oak Grove owner Joe Fowler said is doing well and on the way to a full recovery.
Once notified of the positive test, the local health department contacted the academy on Francis Road, providing letters to go home with parents.
“It was a shock,” Fowler said. “But the more we found out about it, the less concerned we were. One of our dads is a microbiologist and when he said how difficult it was to transmit, we felt better.”
However, parents were at first upset.
“But most of them understood what the situation was and once they received more information about the disease, they understood there was little danger,” Fowler said.
“It’s so treatable. It’s not like a death sentence, which is what I think we all think when we first hear it.”
Tuberculosis, commonly referred to as TB, is a bacterial disease that typically attacks the lungs, as well as other body parts including the kidney, spine and brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Before treatments made it manageable, the disease was the leading cause of death in America.
Tuberculosis takes a while to develop and is not contagious until fully active, Palmer said.
“When the disease is active, that’s when people are contagious," he said. "And when they cough, droplets come out into the air and then people either inhale or ingest the droplet, and that’s how the disease is spread.”
Tuberculosis is fairly common, Palmer said. In 2010, there was one case reported in Forsyth.
The case from Oak Grove was actually reported in Fulton County, where the person was diagnosed.
Treatment for the disease is a lengthy process. It involves a series of medications over a period of a few months, Palmer said.
“It’s important if someone tests positive, and they’re diagnosed with tuberculosis, they are treated,” he said. “Left untreated, tuberculosis can be a serious disease.”