Officials confirm tuberculosis case at Troy University, warns others are at risk of infection

Lilly Casolaro

News Editor

Dean of Student Services Herbert Reeves and the Alabama Department of Public Health have confirmed that an off-campus Troy University main campus student has contracted pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), Other students who may have come in contact with the individual could be at risk. 

“Tuberculosis is an airborne disease, that is spread when someone with active TB talks, speaks or sings and they are in a small closed area,” said Pam Barrett, director of the division of TB control for the Alabama Department of Public Health. “The other people in the room can possibly pick up that TB germ from them.

“We (ADPH) are here to let students know that there is a possibility that some of them may have been exposed to active TB.” 

The University was notified earlier today and the student services office subsequently sent out an email to all students and faculty. Officials held a press conference at 3 p.m. today to confirm reports and provide information.

Herbert Reeves, dean of student services at Troy, and Pam Barrett, director of the division of TB control for the Alabama Department of Public Health. hold a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m. Officials confirmed a case of tuberculosis at Troy University and provide details about precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease. / (Lilly Casolaro photo)

“They are going to be students that were in the same class from the individual that was sick as well as faculty members that may have been teaching that student or counseling that student,” Barrett said.

Students, faculty and staff who have been identified as having close contact or proximity to the infected student have been contacted via email as of Thursday evening.

“According to the ADPH, ‘close contact’ is defined generally as spending an extended amount of time with the subject in a physically close environment,” according to a press release from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Those who have been identified as being in close proximity in an enclosed space for an extended period will be highly encouraged to participate in a TB test screening, according to Reeves and Barrett.

The free screening and blood test for those who have been notified in their email will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 24, in the Trojan Center room 224 from 9 a.m. to noon.

A T-SPOT blood test will be administered which does not have to be later read, and is “a more accurate test and takes away the false positives that you would often get with the TB skin test,” according to Barrett.

Barrett said that the testing is confidential, and that if a student tests positive for the TB infection, the student’s test results will not be released to the university. 

 “The school is working with us in helping us to identify the students who were in contact, but they will not know the test results of anyone who was screened,” Barrett said. “If someone is negative, we do not contact them, but typically if their test comes back positive, we will call them within three to four days after the test is done for a follow-up screening.”

Those who have not been notified, but who are concerned about possible contraction, are encouraged to contact the student health center located on-campus in Hamil Hall or to seek a assistance from a personal physical or medical profession, according to an email sent out by Reeves on Thursday afternoon.

It is unclear at this time how the student contracted the disease. 

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects your lungs, according to the Mayo Clinic. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.

Symptoms include coughing that lasts three or more weeks, coughing up blood, chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats, chills and loss of appetite, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.

Barrett said that TB can be treated and cured and it is preventable, but it will not go away on its own, and will worsen with time.

More updates will be posted as they arise.

UPDATED 10/19/2017 at 8:17 p.m. to reflect information covered during the press conference. 

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