The Riverside County Department of Public Health has announced the detection of two cases of active tuberculosis in nearby high schools.

In late October, one case was diagnosed in Vista Murrieta High School. A second case was diagnosed in an Indio High School student in November.

While unusual, the two cases are unrelated, said Barbara Cole, DPH director of Disease Control. In 2012, one case of high school TB appeared in Riverside County out of a total 56 active cases — down from 68 in 2011, according to Cole. A total of 36 cases were found in people older than 44 years.

The numbers have been dropping since the mid-2000s. In 2007 and 2008, the number of identified cases in Riverside County was 80 and 79, respectively.

The county’s current rate of cases, 2.5 per 100,000 population, is significantly lower than the U.S average of 3.2 and the California average of 5.8, which happened to be an all-time low in California.

Tuberculosis is a disease spread by close and prolonged contact with an individual who has active tuberculosis. People may become infected with TB by breathing air exhaled by someone who is sick with TB.

TB is not spread by shaking hands, sharing food or drink, or via bed linens or toilet seats.

Some of the symptoms of TB include coughing with sputum for more than three to four weeks; coughing up blood; pain in the chest when breathing; unexplained loss of appetite or weight loss; and fever with night sweats for more than three weeks.

Anyone concerned about TB may contact their health care provider or the DPH Disease Control at 951-358-5107. For more information about tuberculosis, visit the DPH’s website

J.P. Crumrine can be reached at [email protected]