An employee at a Greenwood County elementary school has been detained against their will after they were suspected of infecting dozens of children with tuberculosis by refusing to stay home.
It’s the latest in the unfolding investigation at Ninety Six Primary School, where parents learned about a tuberculosis outbreak last week. So far, DHEC has tested 546 people. 63 had positive skin test results (including 53 students). 11 (10 students) had abnormal chest X-ray results, meaning the disease was active in their bodies, DHEC officials say.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says it involuntarily confined the employee, who was not identified, in order to protect the public from further exposure to the contagious disease. DHEC director Catherine Templeton issued an emergency public health order Thursday authorizing the confinement.
“You have been evasive, vague and inconsistent with responses to questions from DHEC staff about persons who may be contacts and in providing information to assist with locating individuals, time frames for potential exposures, and other information critical to notifying persons who are at risk,” Templeton’s order states, “You have provided false and conflicting information to DHEC staff, been nonresponsive in answering specific questions, and failed to obtain permission before leaving home isolation. Your failure to fully disclose your contacts places those individuals at significant risk.”
DHEC officials said the infected employee has pulmonary tuberculosis, which is a life-threatening disease spread through the air. The State newspaper reports the person is believed to be a janitor at the school.