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Suffolk County investigating case of TB at Copiague Middle School

A case of tuberculosis at Copiague Middle School is under investigation by the Suffolk County Department of Health, public health officials announced Monday.

The individual, who was not identified by age, gender or place of residence, is said to be receiving treatment for the infection, according to a statement from Suffolk health officials.

The health department will conduct a general information session at Copiague Middle on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The discussion will be held in the school’s auditorium, 2650 Great Neck Rd. in Copiague.

Health department officials are offering free Mantoux tuberculin skin tests — also known as the PPD Mantoux skin test — to screen individuals at the school who may have been in close contact with the person being treated for tuberculosis. Skin tests are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health.

Administrators at Copiague Middle have helped identify people at the school who may have had close or prolonged contact with the person who is undergoing treatment.

Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken emphasized Monday that tuberculosis is not spread by casual contact, such as shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats.

Tuberculosis, commonly called TB, is caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is spread through the air on droplets, usually from coughing or sneezing. While the disease usually is thought of as a respiratory condition, it also can “affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine,” health department officials said in their statement Monday.

Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection and TB disease, experts said.

In 2016, the most recent year for complete statistics, there were 768 newly reported TB cases statewide, similar in number to the 765 cases reported in 2015, data from the state Health Department show. Nearly three-quarters of the New York’s TB cases are concentrated in New York City.

Anyone in the Copiague school district who did not receive notification that they or their children were identified as having had close and prolonged contact, or anyone who has questions or concerns related to TB, may call the Suffolk County Department of Health Services at 631-854-2200, Monday through Friday  from 8:30 a.m.  to 4:30 p.m.