About 150 Hanks High School students may have been exposed to tuberculosis

Hanks High School.

About 150 students in the Ysleta Independent School District may have been exposed to tuberculosis, health officials said Thursday.

"We have an individual whose associated with the Ysleta School District who tested positive for tuberculosis," Robert Resendes, director of Public Health Department, said.

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health said it is sending letters to parents telling them that their children may have had close contact with someone with an active case of tuberculosis.

At first, city health officials and the district did not release specific information about the affected school. At 5 p.m. Thursday, district officials said the school affected was Hanks High School.

This morning, the city health department announced it is investigating a possible tuberculosis exposure involving 150 students in the Ysleta Independent School District. We are working closely with the health department and now have their permission to disclose that Hanks High School is the campus where the active case of tuberculosis was found. The health department instructed us not to disclose this information earlier today. But after we received numerous parent concerns, they have now authorized us to name Hanks High School as the affected campus. We cannot disclose any other details as per the directive of the city health department
We apologize for any undue anxiety this may have caused parents at our other campuses, and we appreciate the community's patience and understanding in this matter. Thank you.
For more information contact the Department of Public Health at 915-212-6609.

“The cooperation offered by Ysleta ISD officials has been excellent, and we will continue to work closely with school officials to make sure those specific students who have been identified at-risk are tested,” said Robert Resendes, public health director. “The health and well-being of our community is our utmost priority, and we ask that parents who receive the Department of Public Health letter participate in the screening process so we can determine whether or not their child is infected, and provide appropriate evaluation and treatment.”

Health officials said students should be screened for tuberculosis through a blood draw that will be tested at the Department of Public Health laboratory in El Paso.

"We'll do some blood tests. It'll take about maybe a week to get those tests back," Resendes said. "If everything comes back negative, then we close-up shop. We're done and it was a good outcome. If we have some positive cases we investigate those cases, who they spend time with and see if this grows."

Some students at Hanks tell KFOX14 they hope the department can prevent students from getting sick.

"That's crazy that a lot of kids getting sick such a bad I guess disease," Jake Copeland, a student, said.

"That's crazy. I wouldn't want it to happen to me or anyone else," Aaron Nevarz, a student, said.

"To be honest when I go through my head that kind of gets me worried," Kevin Castillo, a student, said. "I'm hoping it doesn't get everybody."

Parents who receive a letter from the Department of Public Health who have additional questions may call the City of El Paso Department of Public Health at 915-212-6609.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial illness acquired through breathing in infected droplets from a cough or sneeze of a person with active tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is not easily transmitted. The likelihood of transmission increases with the length of exposure to the cough/sneeze of someone with active tuberculosis.

The district released the following statement:

The Ysleta Independent School District is cooperating fully with the El Paso City Department of Public Health regarding this case. The district is following all procedures as prescribed by district and city health policies. The district has been directed by the City Department of Public Health to refer all inquiries to them. Please contact them at 915-212-1077.

Resendes said there will be a parents-only meeting at Hanks at 6 p.m. on Tuesday about tuberculosis.

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