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Tuberculosis Not A Thing of the Past

Posted November. 15, 2006 03:02,   


Sixty students from three high schools in Ansan and Busan are infected with tuberculosis, a Class 3 legally designated infectious disease, alarming the health authorities.

Health authorities and the Offices of Education have launched a joint investigation into the cause of the disease, but except for speculating, “Weakened immune system due to irregular meals, not enough rest, and smoking,” it has not been discovered.


Since November last year, 46 students from S High School in Ansan have been infected. The Sangnok-gu public health center in Ansan stated, “In November last year, one student (11th grader at the time) came to us complaining of coughing and phlegm, and we conducted an X-ray examination and found that the student had tuberculosis,” and added, “After checking the other students in the class, another person was found to have been infected.” Through additional tests at the health center, four students were found to be infected in May, 13 in June, 21 in July, three in August, and three in September.

The infected students were initially quarantined, but they are now able to attend classes with the uninfected students. The Sangnok-gu public health center announced,“Tuberculosis is no longer infectious if treated with medicine for two weeks, and recovery is possible after six months of treatment.”

For middle and high school students in the Gyeonggi area, 243 people were infected last year and 246 were infected in 2004, but no mass outbreaks had occurred.

High schools B and I in Busan also had 18 and five students with the disease, respectively. In B High School, a school nurse who heard that one student was infected this September persuaded the 10th graders to submit to an X-ray examination, and discovered that a total of nine students were infected. Following the physical examination for all 10th graders early this month, in which nine additional students were found to have tuberculosis, the Busan health authorities are planning to conduct tests for the 580 students in the 11th and 12th grades on November 17.

System Renders Early Discovery Impossible-

Some point out the limitations to early prevention in the current system, in which middle and high school students are tested for tuberculosis once a year but with a different testing period. Currently, 7th graders and 10th graders have a checkup at the hospitals once a year, and the results are notified after a month. Eighth, 9th, 11th and 12th graders receive checkups at school during the year.

As a result, infected students are hard to locate, so unless the health authorities act, the students will be exposed to the disease. The current outbreak has also proved this point as the voluntary checkup of the students, rather than the school, has led to the discovery of the outbreak.

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