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Hundreds of students, staff, awaiting tuberculosis test results

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Hundreds of students and staff members are on edge, finding out they may have been exposed to a potentially deadly bacterial infection.

The news broke Thursday, that a Kalamazoo Central student has contracted tuberculosis.

Now, school leaders are working to calm the panic and assure parents that their students are safe.

300 students and staff are being tested starting on Monday, and then they will be tested again in about 8 to 10 weeks.

Positive test results came back on Tuesday, and now we're learning more about how people were notified.

The only details that anyone is allowed to give out is that it was a male student who was symptomatic.

Health officials and district administrators outlined their notification efforts Thursday afternoon, saying they started with letters Wednesday afternoon, and phone calls Thursday morning.

We're told staff that had to be tested were notified first, then the entire staff, followed by students who had to be tested, and then the rest.

One of the letters told parents, "the student is isolated at home and is undergoing treatment," and for some, the letter also added, "your child has been identified as possibly having been exposed."

Some parents were notified Thursday morning and felt it was too late.

We're told none of the 300 students and staff scheduled for testing are showing any symptoms, and Dr. David Davenport of Borgess Medical Center says any perceived delay in notification won't lead to more students coming down with the illness.

"Waiting doesn't make any difference at all, because if you were going to get a severe case of TB, it would normally take 4-6 weeks anyway," he explained.

Last year, there were 141 cases of TB state-wide.

There have been 21 so far this year, throughout the state, and 2 in Kalamazoo County.

Right now, officials are not calling this case highly contagious, saying there's a slim chance any of the 300 students and staff get the disease.