Doesn't Washington have enough image problems without The Post's sensationalistic In Brief headline "TB Diagnosed in 2 Students at NW School" [Metro, July 7]? TB is an airborne disease caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis, in which a prolonged exposure is needed to develop infections. Those students do not have tuberculosis, nor were they diagnosed with tuberculosis.

After having positive reactions to a common screening test and normal chest X-rays, the students were diagnosed as having TB infections, or inactive TB, as The Post called it. The children are not contagious and pose no threat to others. Most people who test positive for TB infections don't know where, when or from whom they acquired the bacterium. Although The Post goes on to state this information, I have to wonder how many people read far enough into the article to learn these facts.

Active TB, or TB disease, is a reportable disease, but TB infections are not reportable to the D.C. Health Department or to other health departments. Fortunately, TB infections are treatable, and most health departments are there to assist anyone seeking prophylactic treatment, thus preventing another case of active TB. Did The Post stop to think how many children in Fairfax County or Montgomery County have been diagnosed with TB infections?

As a public health nurse, I become highly dismayed when I read sensationalistic, inaccurate articles such as this one. Only after skin testing, chest X-rays and positive sputum cultures is a person diagnosed with TB.

KARLA J. ABNEY

Washington