ENNIS – After hearing concerns from around the community about the tuberculosis situation at Ennis High School, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis/Arlington) and State Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Ellis County) helped facilitate a community meeting Wednesday night with health officials from the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS).

The officials will be in Ennis at 7 p.m.Wednesday, Sept. 28 at the Ennis High School Auditorium to answer questions about the tuberculosis situation at EHS.

Included in the group of state officials are Dr. James Zoretic, TDSHS regional director, Dr. James Morgan, TDSHS assistant commissioner for regional and local services, Dr. Lisa Cornelius, TDSHS regional director, Nicholas Dauster, TDSHS director of government affairs, Christ Van Deusen, TDSHS assistant press secretary.

Community members with questions about the public health situation are encouraged to attend the meeting.

In a press release, Zoretic made the following statement:

“DSHS is conducting a contact investigation prompted by a reported case of tuberculosis in Ellis County. Although the case originated within Ennis ISD, DSHS has sole responsibility in determining which student populations are tested, as well as financial responsibility for covering costs for those who require treatment and do so through DSHS,” Zoretic said. “Also, DSHS is responsible for all aspects of diagnosis, treatment options, testing protocol, and all other matters related to this investigation.

“Public health professionals have a long history of dealing with tuberculosis. TB is not uncommon in Texas, even in schools, and there are standard investigation procedures used by public health officials that are backed up by medical evidence and years of experience,” he said. “Those procedures are being followed in this case.

He said tuberculosis can be spread when a person with TB bacteria in their lungs coughs, sneezes or talks. It is only moderately infectious and requires prolonged exposure in an enclosed space to spread.

While tuberculosis is a serious illness, it can be treated and cured by taking a course of medication (antibiotics). A contact investigation includes a skin test of people who have a history of prolonged, close contact with a person with active tuberculosis disease.

People with only casual contact or with contact to people who are being skin tested do not need to be tested.In this case, DSHS has worked to determine which people are close contacts and should be tested. Additional circles or levels of contacts will be added as indicated by CDC standards for investigations.”

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis/Arlington) released the following statement concerning the presence of tuberculosis at Ennis High School.

“I want to applaud state and local leaders for their quick actions once notified about the presence of tuberculosis at Ennis High School. This is still a developing situation so parents need to stay vigilant and be proactive. If the school has notified you that your child may have been exposed, please follow their directions and make sure he or she is tested,” the congressman said.

“Ennis Regional Medical Center, the closest hospital to the high school, is ready to administer the proper exams and make sure children get the necessary treatment and the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) assures me they will provide needed medical care for affected students at no cost.

“My office has been in contact with officials at the local hospitals, the Ennis ISD, the TDSHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and I am personally monitoring this situation.

“I would encourage Texas public health officials to take all appropriate precautions.

“I remain confident that Ellis County leaders and the Texas Department of State Health Services will continue to do everything necessary to keep the kids in Ennis safe and healthy. I stand ready to help if needed,” Barton said.

For more information and to get answers to frequently asked questions, visit the Ennis ISD website - http://www.ennis.k12.tx.us/