Posted March 15, 2023
March 14, 2023
Dear George Washington High School Families,
We recently learned that students and staff at George Washington High School may have been exposed to a person with tuberculosis (TB) during this school year. At this time, there is NO ongoing risk for TB exposure at the school. The Public Health Institute at Denver Health is managing the investigation. Since Tuesday, March 14, we have been contacting people who were potentially exposed to inform them of the need to get tested. If you are not contacted by Friday, March 17, your student was likely not exposed.
TB is a disease caused by germs spread through the air from one person to another. Getting TB typically requires many hours of contact with a person who is sick from TB. TB cannot be spread by touching door knobs, tables, utensils or other surfaces.
Most people who are exposed to TB do not get infected.
People who are infected might not get sick at all or do not get sick until months or even years later.
People who are infected cannot give TB to others unless they are sick with symptoms such as cough, fever or night sweats.
A person who is infected but is not sick can be treated to eliminate the infection and to prevent them from getting sick in the future.
The Public Health Institute at Denver Health, George Washington High School, Denver Public Schools and Denver Department of Public Health and Environment will be working closely to test the people who were exposed. If anyone is found to have TB infection, they will undergo further evaluation and be offered treatment to prevent them from getting sick. At this time, we are recommending that only people with many hours of contact with the individual be tested.
If you have not been contacted by the health department but still want to be tested for TB, please see your primary care provider.
The Public Health Institute at Denver Health is hosting a virtual town hall with George
Washington High School on Wednesday, March 15, at 6 p.m. GW will send the link for the Town Hall in a subsequent message.
Again, we do not believe there is any ongoing risk of TB exposure at the school and students are safe to attend school and activities as usual.
If you have any additional questions, visit the Tuberculosis Clinic website or call your primary care provider. You may also contact the TB Clinic at 303-602-7240.
You and your family’s health is our top priority. Thank you for working with us.
Michelle Haas, MD
Medical Director, Tuberculosis Clinic
Public Health Institute at Denver Health
Denver Department of Public Health and Environment
Dackri Davis, PhD
George Washington High School
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Tuberculosis (TB)
How is TB diagnosed?
TB infection is typically diagnosed by a skin or blood test. Results are available in one to three days. Most people who are infected will not be sick and cannot give TB to others. If a person is sick with symptoms due to TB, a chest X-ray is required, regardless of the blood test results.
Who needs to be tested?
George Washington High School and the Tuberculosis Clinic at the Public Health Institute at Denver Health are directly contacting all individuals who need to be tested. If you are not directly contacted, you likely do not need testing at this time because you were not exposed.
Do my friends, roommates or family members need to get tested?
No, TB infection itself is not contagious and only people directly exposed need to be tested at this time.
When and how will people get test results?
Generally, test results are available within four days. The Tuberculosis Clinic will follow up with anyone who has positive results.
What if the test is positive?
If a person tests positive, the Tuberculosis Clinic at Denver Health will contact that individual for additional evaluation.
Is it safe to come to school?
Yes, George Washington High School is working closely with the Tuberculosis Clinic at Denver Health, and has identified people who may have been exposed. There is no reason to be concerned about attending class or school events. Once again, getting TB typically requires many hours of contact with a person who is sick from TB. TB cannot be spread by touching door knobs, tables, utensils or other surfaces.
How do I know if someone is contagious?
A person with TB can only be contagious if he or she is sick and exhibiting symptoms, such as cough, fever or night sweats. George Washington High School and the Tuberculosis Clinic at Denver Health will evaluate anyone who has symptoms that could be due to TB to determine whether he or she has TB and is potentially contagious.
Why am I not being tested?
Only people who are most at risk when the possible exposure occurred need to be tested. If you have not been contacted by the Tuberculosis Clinic at Denver Health, we don’t believe you were exposed.
What are the symptoms of a person sick with TB (also called active TB)?
Some common symptoms of active TB include:
• A cough lasting more than three weeks
• Heavy sweating at night
• Loss of appetite
• Unintended weight loss
• Coughing up blood
• Pain in the chest
• Weakness or fatigue
Where can I learn more about TB?
To speak with a live person who can answer your questions and address your concerns 24/7, call 303-389-1687. You can also refer to the Public Health Institute at Denver Health TB fact page. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact your primary care provider.