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Iowa student diagnosed with tuberculosis

State and Franklin County health officials trying to track down people student had contact with

Stethoscopes hang in the hallway at His Hands Free Clinic in Cedar Rapids in 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Stethoscopes hang in the hallway at His Hands Free Clinic in Cedar Rapids in 2017. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

By Jaci Smith, Mason City Globe Gazette

Tuberculosis, a bacterial infection commonly thought to be an illness of the past, has been detected in Franklin County.

A high school student in the Hampton-Dumont school district has been diagnosed with TB, the school district said this week.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is working with Franklin County Public Health to create a list of people the student came in contact with so they can be tested, said Ashley Roberts, Franklin County Public Health administrator.

TB is an airborne pathogen transmitted through coughing, talking and sneezing. People stricken with the illness experience a cough that lasts three weeks or longer, have pain in the chest and cough up sputum or blood. A fever also can be present.

The illness is treated with antibiotics. A vaccine for TB is generally not recommended.

Franklin County Public Health will work with the Iowa Department of Public Health to set up a clinic to perform blood tests, Roberts said, but no official date has been set yet.

TB testing and treatment are free through the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Franklin County has had only one other documented case of TB from 2008 to 2017, according to state health records. Over the same period, Iowa has averaged about 46 cases of TB annually, down markedly from the 600 to 700 diagnosed in the 1930s and 1940s, according to the Iowa DPH.

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