UCM Collaborates with Kansas Officials for TB Testing
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Feb. 23, 2009) – UCM's Health Services office is working with Kansas and Johnson County, MO public health officers to provide free tuberculosis testing for individuals who were in close, regular contact with a former student who has been diagnosed with the disease.
The student commuted to campus during the fall 2008 semester, and was taking classes this semester at a Kansas institution when testing confirmed positive for active, significant TB disease. In accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control protocol, the student has been temporarily isolated from unprotected contact with others while undergoing treatment for the disease.
“CDC protocol calls for testing ‘contacts’ from three months prior to the patient’s onset of active disease symptoms – that means we need be involved to find the contacts from campus and follow up with them,” said Michelle Hendricks, director of University Health Services. Only individuals who are contacted by Health Services will need to get tested.
The university is not releasing the name of the patient for confidentiality reasons. Hendricks said UCM is obtaining class rosters for all of the former student’s fall 2008 classes, and will notify students in those classes, faculty members and other employees who were in close contact to stop by the University Health Center to have a TB skin test. She noted that after a skin test is conducted the person receiving the test will be required to have the test site examined two to three days later. Students and campus employees who had regular contact with the affected student last fall will be notified by Health Services by email or letter about dates and times for testing.
“The patient is being interviewed by public health officers to determine all social network contacts,” Hendricks said. “This may include some additional students or faculty members at UCM. As these individuals are identified, they will be contacted and instructed to be tested.”
“If you are not notified personally, then you do not need to be tested,” Hendricks said. She added, however, non-contacts who are concerned will be given an opportunity to be screened for TB.
According to CDC, tuberculosis is a disease that can damage a person’s lungs or other parts of the body causing serious illness. It spreads when a person with active, untreated tuberculosis germs in the lungs or throat expels those germs into the air by coughing, sneezing or speaking. Only people who breathe these germs into their lungs can be infected. Usually, people who have had very close, day-to-day contact with the infected person are the only individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting the illness, which is less contagious than measles, mumps, chicken pox and influenza.
The tuberculin skin test is a simple procedure. A tiny needle is used to inject a small amount of testing material in the skin of the inner arm, causing a slightly raised area resembling a mosquito bite. This area usually disappears in 20 to 30 minutes. The results of the test help identify if a person has been exposed to the TB organism, Hendricks said. It does not expose the test recipient to TB nor is it possible to get TB by having the test done. All test results will be confidential.
Hendricks said a positive skin test does not mean that the person has active TB disease. It only means that an individual has been exposed to the TB organism. The university will follow CDC recommended protocol in terms of next steps to be taken for anyone who may have a positive skin test. These steps will determine if they have a latent tuberculosis infection, with germs that are inactive and not contagious, or active tuberculosis disease. More information is available on the CDC web site.
For more information, contact Laurie Wilson at 660-543-4779 or Becky Steckel at 660-543-4777.