Nebraska officials test hundreds for tuberculosis at day care center

Nebraska health officials are testing hundreds of preschoolers for tuberculosis after an active case was confirmed at a day care in Douglas County.

The Douglas County Health Department declared a public health emergency after more than 500 people were possibly exposed to the disease.

The agency said the exposures may have happened at the Westview YMCA drop-in day care from late spring into late October.

“The Douglas County Health Department is investigating the patient’s activities while they were contagious to learn of potential exposures, helping the patient isolate, and observing them complete their medication until they test negative for TB,” the health department said in a public message. “DCHD also is working to notify parents of children and anyone else who had close contact with the patient.”

In addition to the weekend’s testing of children aged 4 and under, the health department will hold clinics at the YMCA on November 15-17, to test anyone who was identified as exposed from late May until August 21.

“Testing for tuberculosis is only recommended for those who had close contact on one or more occasions,” the health department said in the statement, adding, “This includes being in the same room with them but does not include brief exposures in areas such as cafeterias, hallways, restrooms, or gymnasiums.”

The agency urged staff and children exposed between August 21 and October 30 to be screened now, and again 8-10 weeks after, their most recent exposure. Children under 4 exposed over the same period should also receive chest X-rays and window prophylaxis as soon as possible, department officials said.

According to the agency, parents or guardians of children who may have been exposed received an email on November 8.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection usually found in the lungs and can cause coughing, chest pain and fever, characterized by coughing up blood or mucus.

It can spread when someone has developed symptoms, coughs, or breathes out the bacteria, especially in an enclosed area for a long period of time.

The disease is curable, often treated with a standardized course of drugs which usually includes antibacterial medicines, according to the World Health Organization.

Each year, about 10 million people fall ill with tuberculosis and about 1.5 million people die.

CNN’s Carma Hassan contributed to this report.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at