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Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Statement on Palo Alto, Calif., Boy Required to Transfer to New School

October 23, 2012

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has received a number of questions and inquiries following recent news reports about the decision of a Palo Alto, Calif., school requiring the transfer of a student who is reported to be a “carrier” of the CF gene.

The CF Foundation is not privy to all the details of the boy’s health status, and is not in a position to comment on the specifics of the case. However, the Foundation wants to take the opportunity to underscore the difference between a CF carrier and a person with CF and correct information that has been inaccurate in some of the news accounts.

Facts About a CF Carrier vs. a Person with CF

  • People with cystic fibrosis have two copies of a defective CF gene. 
  • CF carriers have only one copy of a defective CF gene and have no manifestations of the disease.
  • Carriers do not pose a risk to anyone.
  • More than 10 million Americans are symptomless, often unknowing carriers of a defective CF gene. 
  • People who have CF do not pose any risk to the general public or to carriers of the CF gene.
  • People with CF do pose a risk to other people with CF because of the risk of spreading or contracting harmful bacteria that damages the lungs of those with the disease.

The CF Foundation’s Infection Control Policy

Recent news coverage has also prompted questions about the Foundation’s infection control policy. This policy is in effect to protect the health of CF patients by preventing the spread or acquisition of germs between people with CF.

The Foundation’s CF Care Guidelines on Infection Control only apply to people with CF. They are not relevant to individuals who are CF carriers.

The Guideline’s school-based recommendations for people with cystic fibrosis include:

  • Children with CF can attend the same school, but it is recommended that they not be in the same classroom, if possible.
  • In communal areas, CF patients should not get too close to each other.
  • Good hand-washing and cough etiquette are encouraged for everyone.

People with CF and their families who have any questions about infection control should speak with their CF care provider.

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