Moving Abroad

Published on June 19th, 2013 | by Paz


Tuberculosis Outbreak in South Carolina – and Zombie Attacks

For the last three weeks we have been living in a tuberculosis outbreak area, and our daughter Lupita attended the school where the index case (original TB carrier) worked. We were notified of the outbreak on May 27th and it has been a roller coaster of visits to the Department of Health, false reports by both her school along with kids and teachers becoming very sick every since the news broke.

A little over a week ago I wrote about experiencing a kindergarten graduation in the U.S. and how much fun our little graduate had. This post is about the awful pain she had to endure after her graduation.

Here is a detailed account of the last month of our lives, and how it has changed our view on travel and of course the likelihood of a Zombie attack in our own backyard.

On May 27th our daughter’s school refused to release her entire class until they had handed out paperwork. What was so important? It was to inform us that a person in the school had tuberculosis and that the children could have been exposed and that they should be tested. The school was going to offer free testing in 3 days”in only an effort to exercise extreme and over caution”. Since I hate listening to school officials I took her that same afternoon to the department of health get her tested. The woman at DHEC told me that it wasn’t necessary and most likely no one would come back with any sort of positive skin tests. They were being extremely over cautious and I was overreacting in attempting to get her tested right away. hmm….

That same afternoon I called the 800 number on the school paperwork to question how they felt it was safe to allow kids to attend a school with a TB positive infection. Tuberculosis is an airborne disease. I didn’t understand why they would invite families into the school for graduation knowing that there could be more TB infected people. Again I was told that I was overreaching and it was only extreme caution. “Nothing to worry about”

Her TB testing was going to take place after the graduation ceremony. Because there wasn’t another better time, right?

After the graduation ceremony (where the school had invited kids, babies, elderly and the sick into the school building) skin tests were performed on students. After the ceremony we had to wait in an enclosed gym for 4 hours to have the TB skin test administered. The kids and I were hungry, thirsty, and there were many there waiting with small children. As you can guess I complained and got very little response.

To get our test results we had to return to the school the following Monday. Since Lupita had graduated she was officially out of school.  Reading a TB skin test means that the nurse inspects the injection site to see if there had been a reaction to the shot. While we were there I will admit I was very relaxed and wasn’t thinking much about the test. I wanted to be done and go home. However, many students were coming back with positive skin tests. I mean extreme reactions….like mangos on their arms. What happened to this being an extreme precaution.

Kids were coming back with positive test results. The next lame excuse we received from the School Board and DHEC was “oh don’t worry this is the latent TB”. If you have latent TB they are correct in that it can’t be passed via coughing, sneezing, laughing, ect. However what they didn’t tell anybody was that the time from when you are TB latent to TB disease is different for every person and is based off of each person’s personal immune system.

The best part comes out in the next 12 hours. It was then disclosed that the first case of TB was in FEBRUARY!!!!!!! OMGosh! I could have strangled someone! The timeline is detailed in Greenwood Today’s TB Timeline 

The best part when I called to schedule TB skin tests for Abe and myself and DHEC was refusing to allow us to be tested.  Abe and I eat lunch with Lupita often and Abe played in the school everyday when we go pick up Lupita. DHEC was refusing to have us tested. I had to get very upset with them to agree to test us, even though I was willing to pay for the test. I only needed them to administer it. When they finally agreed to allow us to be tested we ended up sitting in a room full of kids and teachers that had positive skin tests and some positive chest x-rays. It was crazy, remember this is an airborne disease.

We are all okay, but I can’t say the same for all the kids in Lupita’s class or the teachers in the school. It was a huge disappointment since this elementary is one of the best in the area and her teachers were amazing. Because of DHEC and the irresponsible school board and superintendent the damage was:

Total number of TB skin tests = 536 (59 staff, 487 students),

Total number of positive TB skin test results = 62 (10 staff, 52 students),

Total number of abnormal chest X-ray readings = 10 (1 staff, 9 students)

Total number of TB Disease not original case = (1 staff )

**UPDATE** A dozen people now have now developed tuberculosis.

Now the Zombie Attacks!

While this whole thing was a train wreck, I could only think what people would be thinking if this was happening in one of the foreign cities we have lived. The scare would be higher, the dramatics would be greater, and I am sure we would have received an e-mail or two about it. Since we are in the U.S., we received no correspondence.

Zombie attacks can happen in your backyard. We never thought that this would happen and we know many people who have been infected and now have to undergo months of serious treatment and are not able to travel, see family members, or leave their house during these beautiful summer months.

Anything can happen and if you don’t believe that it is happening near and around you then you are kidding yourself. One infected person, one bacteria, or one bad person. That is all it takes to turn your wold upside down.

Like many eye opening events we realized that we aren’t immune to anything. No matter where you live, what you do, or what you may think, you can’t escape some of the awfulness in this world. Enjoy the good moments, stop and breathe the fresh air, drink water, enjoy the trees, and be grateful.

Some of the sadness in the U.S. of A. include: sex trafficking, starvation, child neglect, disease, stupidity, and many more inhumane acts. Obviously where ever you are you must be safe, as we have to be here now with the TB outbreak. We used this same commonsense when we were driving through Bangkok at 3 a.m. and roaming the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Don’t let staying safe keep you from venturing into other countries.

Live before the Zombies attack. Be grateful, live the life you want today and count your blessings. Zombies or no Zombies it is all the same for us. Focusing on our blessings, trees, water, air, and each other is important today. We will worry about more airborne diseases and Zombie attacks tomorrow.


About the Author

Paz is an avid adventurer in life and food. Traveling across the globe with her family they enjoy cultural immersion and checking out the local eateries.

2 Responses to Tuberculosis Outbreak in South Carolina – and Zombie Attacks

  1. Angela White says:

    Holly crap! Does that sum it up? Can you sue someone or submit the story to abc news or something:) February! I can’t imagine what you have gone through. That’s just scary. I’m so so thankful everyone in your family is healthy.

    • Paz says:

      Ang, I know right! We know people personally who have had their lives turned upside down because of all of this and it is sad because it could have all been so easily prevented. We are very happy and feel very blessed to be TB free as we can continue to travel. Had one of us tested positive we would be denied access to planes and have to undergo 9 months of antibiotics. There are 7 lawsuits currently and although I don’t know the details of any I am happy that people are hopefully going to be held accountable for endangering children.

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