Twenty-nine infected with TB at Chinese middle school

Local health authorities in China reported that 29 people have been confirmed to be infected with tuberculosis at a middle school in Anhui province.

Twenty-six students and three teachers tested positive for the highly contagious lung infection after a 10th grade student was initially found to have the illness, according to

The provincial health department confirmed that medical checkups of a total of 374 people who had close contact with the first patient determined the extent of the outbreak, which is centered at the Jingxian No.2 Middle School.

Four people have been admitted to the hospital as a result of the infection. Anti-tuberculosis medication has been distributed to all of the students and teachers at the school, according to

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.4 million people in China develop the active form of TB every year. An estimated 600,000 Chinese are thought to have the highly infectious form of the disease.

TB is caused by infection from the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Although it is most commonly known for attacking the lungs, it can infect other areas of the body, including the kidneys spine and brain. If not treated, the illness can be fatal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The infection is spread from person to person through water droplets in the air originating from an infected person's coughs or sneezes.