Guam – An Untalan Middle School Teacher has died of active Tuberculosis, according to Guam Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola.
He tells PNC that he did not perform an autopsy because he based the cause of death on hospital records, which confirmed the teacher had active pulmonary tuberculosis.
Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Robert Malay tells PNC that the teacher passed away earlier this week. But he says DOE was informed by Department of Public Health last week that the employee was in fact battling tuberculosis.
Malay could not release the teacher’s identity due to federal regulations, but assured students and staff that DOE will conducting a contact investigation for those who may have been exposed to the teacher.
“Basically what the contact investigation is is to try to identify as many people who may have come into close proximity on a regular basis with the individual, whether it’s a student or a teacher or support staff or whatever and proceed to test to see what the results are based on the exposure to the person with active Tuberculosis,” says Malay. “What I can say is that at the start of the school year the teacher did provide the school with a negative TB screening, meaning they did not have tuberculosis when they provided their screening back in July of 2013.”
Malay says the contact investigation began earlier this week with notices that were sent out to students and their parents and support staff of possible exposure to the teacher. And on behalf of the entire DOE, Malay offered condolences to the teacher’s family during this difficult time.
Read the Release from DPHSS Below:
DPHSS is working with school officials to identify all close contacts who will be recommended to undergo TB screening. All faculty and parents of students identified as close contacts will be notified by letter and provided information regarding the date for the TB screening.
Exposure to Tuberculosis does not result in TB disease immediately, unlike other communicable diseases such as Measles, Mumps etc. It takes anywhere from 2-10 weeks in order to see evidence of TB infection as shown by a positive TB skin test reaction. Most people who get exposed to TB might be able to keep the infection inactive or latent. However, children below the age of 5 years, people with Diabetes, or other immunosuppressive conditions may not be able to keep the infection under control and are at higher risk of developing active TB disease within a few months or 1-2 years after exposure.
DPHSS, in collaboration with GDOE School Health Counselors, will provide free TB skin tests to identified contacts at Untalan Middle School on November 22, 2013, from 9:00am – 12:00pm. The PPD skin tests can also be done at private clinics, at the patient’s expense. If the required PPD skin test is not done or test results not submitted by November 26, 2013, student/staff will not be allowed to school/work until the test has been completed. This exclusion is necessary to ensure that all close contacts receive the necessary testing.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria causing tuberculosis, is carried through the air in infectious droplet nuclei too small for the naked eye to see and are produced when an in infected person sneezes, coughs, speaks or sings. A person cannot get TB through handshakes, sitting on toilet seats, or sharing dishes and utensils with someone who has the TB disease.
Persons exhibiting symptoms of the disease such as a bad cough that lasts longer than two weeks, coughing up bloody sputum, weakness or fatigue, chills, weight loss, no appetite, fever and night sweats should contact their physician.
For more information, please contact Cecilia Teresa T. Arciaga, TB Control Program Manager, at 735-3602/7157/7131 from 8:00-5:00 pm.