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Published November 09, 2012, 02:01 PM

8 Confirmed Cases Of Tuberculosis In GF County

Health officials are investigating an outbreak of tuberculosis in Grand Forks County. At a news conference this morning, community members and concerned parents gathered to hear an update on the growing tuberculosis cluster. The concern among parents grew yesterday when a student at Phoenix elementary was diagnosed with active tuberculosis.

Health officials are investigating an outbreak of tuberculosis in Grand Forks County. At a news conference this morning, community members and concerned parents gathered to hear an update on the growing tuberculosis cluster.

The concern among parents grew yesterday when a student at Phoenix elementary was diagnosed with active tuberculosis.

There have been eight confirmed cases of tuberculosis in Grand Forks County including one at Phoenix Elementary School, causing worry among many parents.

"I have a granddaughter that's in public schools here, and I understand as a pediatrician and a father and grandfather the concern parents have," Doctor and Parent Eric Lunn said.

As of now, six adults and two children under the age of ten have been diagnosed with the disease with the most recent case confirmed Tuesday at Phoenix elementary. Health officials say it is related to three others confirmed in the county last month and they don't expect it to be the last.

"We do expect to find more cases, and we do expect that to continue over the next several months and possibly longer," Grand Forks Public Health Director Don Shields said.

"This is not something you get casually, you need someone who is infectious with it and you need to have close, close contact over time," Altru Infectious Disease Doctor James Hargreaves said.

Anyone can get tuberculosis but because the disease takes time to develop, health officials say parents should not panic. Next Tuesday about 30 students and staff members that may have been in contact with the infected student will be tested. The fact that they're waiting to test until next week is causing concern among many parents but officials say there is a reason they are waiting.

"Let's say you did it Friday, you gotta follow up on Sunday or Monday, you're going to miss people," Hargreaves said.

"We are available there for questions and answers for parents and have time to do that. If they rush in here in Friday, they may not have the questions," Shields said.

Again, Grand Forks Public Health will be available at the school next Tuesday to test those students who may have been exposed to the disease. The screenings are free and will not be done without parents' or guardians' present. For more information you can log onto www.gfschools.org.

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