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Health Officials Say ‘No Reason’ To Worry About Arsenal Student Diagnosed With Tuberculosis

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Buses sit outside Arsenal 6-8 in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood.

A student attending Arsenal Middle School in Lawrenceville has been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

*This story was updated at 2:35 p.m.

The Allegheny County Health Department hasn’t shared any details about the student, but they are expected to be cleared to return to school in the near future.

Allegheny County epidemiologist Kristen Mertz said this case is unlikely to result in an outbreak.

“There’s absolutely no reason for the general public or for parents at the school to worry,” Mertz said. “This is not an emergency, people should not go running to the emergency department to get tested.”

Tuberculosis is less common in the United States than in other countries, according to Mertz, so much so that a tuberculosis vaccine is not mandated. The county sees on average 20 cases per year.

Mertz said the county is reaching out to offer testing to a small group of students and other residents that may have been exposed, but said this is out of an abundance of caution.

“[Tuberculosis] is only transmitted if a person with active [tuberculosis] coughs, or spits or talks forcefully with someone in very close contact for a prolonged period of time,” Mertz said.

Symptoms include a cough that lasts more than three weeks, weight loss and a fever, and is typically treated for up to nine months.

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.