The mother of a high school student in Moncton says her daughter will not be returning to class until she receives answers surrounding a recent diagnosis of tuberculosis at the school.
On Thursday, public health officials confirmed they were investigating a case of active tuberculosis at Bernice MacNaughton High School (BMHS) in “a member of the school community.”
But Vanessa Grimmer, the mother of a Grade 10 student at BMHS, says receiving information about the diagnosis has proven difficult.
On Monday night, she attended an information session put on by regional Medical Officer of Health Dr. Yves Léger. She says she went “to find out some answers, to find out the risks, to find out how the school is going to help in the situation, what they’re going to do for testing,” but wasn’t left satisfied.
Grimmer says she was also hoping to figure out if her daughter could have come in contact with the case and wanted to be able to get her daughter’s skin tested to see if she could have latent tuberculosis.
“We’ve even asked public health where they can recommend where we can go get (testing) done,” she says. “They refuse to answer.”
Grimmer has kept her daughter home since learning of the diagnosis and says she’s still processing what she was told Monday.
“She’s concerned,” Grimmer told Global News of her daughter. “She doesn’t want to be sick, obviously.”
Speaking to reporters last week, Léger said testing can’t happen until eight weeks after people could have had last contact with the case.
“Unfortunately, it is the reality that we have to deal with,” he said. “It’s the only tool that we have at our disposition to identify if you’ve been exposed or not to the (tuberculosis) bacteria.”
Some parents were at ease about the news. After learning of the diagnosis, Noel Ward, a father of two at the school, said “I wasn’t overly concerned, it seems like a rare occurrence.”
Dr. Léger said “with every case, we always make sure that they don’t pose a risk to people until such time as they’ve received adequate treatment,” suggesting “there were measures in place.”
“I can appreciate that even mentioning the word tuberculosis can be anxiety-provoking,” Léger said. “It’s not something that is as contagious as things like influenza or measles… I think the risk to the school community is low.”
Nine out of 10 people who are exposed to the bacteria don’t get sick, Léger said at the time. He could not say whether it was a student or staff member due to patient confidentiality.
“We’re only providing the minimum amount of information that we need to conduct our investigation.”
But Grimmer says she was only trying to figure out if her daughter could have come in contact with the case.
People will be selected by Léger for follow-up testing, which will be done in January with a clinic at the school. It will then be determined if further testing is needed or if the investigation can wrap up.
The Anglophone East School District says if there are still concerns, parents can call the school, their family physician or public health.
“The school, and the district are following the direction and recommendations of Public Health while they complete their investigation,” Stephanie Patterson, the district’s director of communications, said in a statement.