The Whitman County Public Health Department has confirmed a case of pulmonary tuberculosis in a 20-year-old undergraduate student at Washington State University.
Bruce Wright, director of WSU Health and Wellness Services, said he is confident the situation poses no general threat to other students or the population at large. He said health officers have interviewed the patient, family and friends, and other close contacts to determine the potential for exposure and infection. Examinations and treatment (when indicated) of individuals who have had close contact with the patient are underway.
Wright said that tests concluded last week confirmed the presence of tuberculosis in the student who has been living off campus. The student is currently receiving antibiotic treatment and will be isolated until all infectious signs are eliminated.
Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria and is spread through the air from one person to another, generally by coughing or sneezing. For others to become infected by the airborne disease, someone has to be in close contact with an infected person in close quarters for an extended period of time. Casual contact, such as sitting in the same large classroom with an infected person, does not constitute the type of exposure for the disease to be transmitted.
Students concerned about possible exposure should contact WSU Health and Wellness Services at (509) 335-3575. Non-students can contact Judy Stone at the Whitman County Public Health Department at (509) 397-6280.
More info about TB can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/submenus/sub_tuberculosis.htm.