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Pediatric specialist says said TB is not a disease often seen in children in the U.S.

The skin test for tuberculosis sparks an itchy welt in people who have been exposed to the bacillus.
Greg Knobloch
File: The skin test for tuberculosis sparks an itchy welt in people who have been exposed to the bacillus.

Tuberculosis testing was conducted last week at D.H. Conley High School, after someone was diagnosed with the lung infection and the Pitt County Health Department identified about 130 students and 20 staff members as potential contacts.

Medical privacy laws prevent health officials from giving any identifying details about the person with TB, but Dr. Vandana Madhavan -- a pediatric disease specialist at Mass General for Children -- said it’s not a disease often seen in children in the U.S.

"In 2021, there were nearly 8,000 cases of active tuberculosis or tuberculosis disease in the US, and of those, about 4% were in children,” she said.

She said only those under age 16 are considered pediatric patients because the disease acts the same in the body of those 16 and older as it does in adults, but it can be worse for smaller children with a latent infection.

Dr. Madhavan said, “An infant, for example, they have a 50% chance of progressing to lung disease and a several percent chance of progressing to more severe meningitis or miliary disease.”

Miliary tuberculosis is a potentially life-threatening type of tuberculosis that occurs when a large number of the bacteria travel through the bloodstream and spread throughout the body.

Dr. Madhavan says the illness is less often spread by children.

"Typically, children are not contagious to others,” she said, “But a child with tuberculosis, even if it's a latent infection and not causing symptoms, means that someone recently gave that child tuberculosis and so therefore that means that there is recent spread of tuberculosis in the community.”

According to the National Library of Medicine, there were just over 160 cases on TB in 2022.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. She has been involved in the media industry in eastern North Carolina for more than three years. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to ENC to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of toddler and baby cuddling, reading, designing costumes for children’s theater and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to