Tuberculosis Hits Eden Prairie Elementary School

Second public school in Eden Prairie with a TB diagnoses in 2017

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – An active case of tuberculosis was diagnosed in a person at Eden Lake Elementary School in March, but students’ families were only informed of the case on Monday.

Eden Prairie News reports that the person in question is being treated for the disease. Patient privacy laws block the school from disclosing whether the diseased person is an employee of the school or a student.

Eden Prairie Public School District Director of Communications Jaclyn Swords told Eden Prairie News that the district followed communications guidelines from Hennepin County Public Health. Those guidelines are in turn set by the Center for Disease Control. The May delivery of messages relating to a March diagnosis of tuberculosis is due to the slow-moving nature of the disease and tests for the disease. Screening tests take eight to 10 weeks to be definitive.

“Hennepin County Public Health has informed us it is highly unlikely that any additional active cases of TB will be found at Eden Lake. We are following their guidelines and protocols to ensure the safety of students and staff,” Swords told Eden Prairie News.

Minnesota had 168 active cases of tuberculosis in 2016, the highest since 2008. Eden Prairie Central Middle School has already been hit with tuberculosis in 2017, as has St. Louis Park High School.

In total from January 1 to March 31, Minnesota has 19 confirmed cases of tuberculosis in 2017, nine of which are from Hennepin County.

Swords told Eden Prairie News that around 100 people at Central Middle School were tested for tuberculosis at the end of February. Swords reported that no further cases had been discovered, and the investigation for the school is now closed.

Hennepin County Public Health worked with Eden Lake Elementary school staff to determine which students had potentially high levels of exposure to the tuberculosis infected individual. Parents were then advised as to their children’s levels of exposure, and whether or not a screening for the disease is recommended.

Testing will occur May 15 and 17 at the school, and will test 35 people, or four percent of the school’s entire population.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) website states that tuberculosis is spread through the air.  The tuberculosis bacteria are released into the air whenever an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. If someone is nearby, they may breathe in the bacteria and become infected.

Anders Koskinen