Tuberculosis outbreak affects 12 in Marion County

High school student spreads infection to a dozen people

CITRA, Fla. - Marion County Health Department said 12 people have tested positive for the tuberculosis infection. This was discovered during an investigation after one student at North Marion High School tested positive for TB over the summer.

The health department said it has received a number of calls from parents who are confused and concerned, but they stress these cases are not contagious.

That's because those 12 people only tested positive for the germ, not the disease. The TB infection means someone carries the germ, which can then be contracted by an infected person.

The infected teenager had the contagious disease. That student has recovered, and since been medically cleared to return to school.

Craig Ackerman with the Marion County Health Department said, "about 7 of the 12 are students and the remaining 5 are family members, friends of the original student."

More than 140 students were tested. Ackerman said they expected this number of postive tests. People with latent TB infection have the germs in their bodies but are not sick because the germ is not active.

"Right now, these 12 people who have tested positive are not sick, they are not contagious, they cannot pass tuberculosis on to other people," Ackerman said.

The health department said that between 5 and 10 percent of the country's population has the germ and doesn't know it.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.