Parents left in the dark for 4 days in TB case?

Lakeland, Florida -- One parent is fired up after learning there was four-day delay between when health officials learned about a student's dangerous infection and when they told other students and parents.

"I'm furious. I'm worried and I'm furious," James McGroarty told me outside Polk County's Lake Gibson High School, where his daughter is in ninth grade.

He's upset that while a Lake Gibson student's sickness was confirmed as TB on Friday, health workers waited to tell the school's parents about it until Tuesday.

Doctors took that time to narrow down a list of 110 close contacts of the student. Those close contacts are all getting tested for TB at taxpayer expense on Wednesday.

McGroarty's daughter is not one of those close contacts. But he says he would have already taken her to her doctor for testing -- and paid for it himself -- if he would have known sooner.

"My child could be infected. I could be infected. Other families can be infected," he said.

I wanted to take his concerns right to the head of public health for the county. But Dr. Ulyee Choe was inside the school for much of the day, overseeing the testing and was unavailable.

His office's spokesman did email me an explanation. It reads:

"TB is a slow growing germ; therefore the immediate risk to the students and teachers is low. At this point, our investigation has determined that most students and teachers have not been exposed.

"Those who may have possibly come in contact with the sick student are being tested. In tuberculosis investigations it is most important to be thorough as the disease does not develop rapidly.

"Health department officials are continuing to monitor the situation to ensure the health and safety of the students, faculty, and community."

And while we talked to a who is fired up -- we talked to family members who are not nearly as anxious.

"My granddaughter... she's gonna be tested. I'm not too worried about it," a grandfather who didn't give his name told me. "It's just one of those things, you know, when you've got a bunch of kids... stuff happens."

All 110 close contacts will absolutely be tested, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health in Polk County told me. Any people missed Wednesday will be tested at school Thursday or tracked down at home.

The results should come back early next week.

For more on the Tuberculosis infection, including the symptoms and how it spreads, check out our earlier article on the Lake Gibson High School TB case.


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