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TB case reported on USF campus

Published: Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Updated: Thursday, July 18, 2013 02:07

A confirmed case of tuberculosis (TB) was reported on the USF campus, according to an email sent to the student body, and 90 students and faculty determined to be at potential risk were notified. 

Dr. Joseph Puccio, medical director of Student Health Services, said the university was notified by the Hillsborough County Health Department in early July that a student was diagnosed with TB. 

He said the student never lived in any of the residence halls on campus, and is being treated off campus in isolation by the county’s health department.

“Once the student was identified, the Hillsborough County Health Department did an investigation to see who was in contact and in potential risk of being possibly exposed to tuberculosis,” Puccio said. “Those persons were identified and received a letter saying the health department recommends being screened for tuberculosis.”

Steve Huard, public information officer for Hillsborough County Health Department, said it will take a week to complete the testing for the 90 people identified in the investigation and another three days for test results to come in.

“We have about 70 cases in Hillsborough County on an annual basis,” Huard said. “It is a very treatable and preventable disease. The main thing we want everyone to know is that this individual is under supervision by the county health department, recovering well, and not a threat to anyone else by transmitting the disease.”

Huard said there is no indication of how the student contracted the disease and there are no other related cases.

Dean for Students Michael Freeman advised students via email on Tuesday morning about the TB case and related health and testing information.

“The good news is that TB is less contagious than measles, mumps, chicken pox and influenza — it is spread when an infected person repeatedly coughs, talks, sings, or sneezes untreated TB germs into the air,” the email said. “Persons who breathe in the germs can become infected. Typically, only persons who have had very close, day-to-day contact with the infected person run the risk of contracting the disease.  Even if a person is infected, the disease may never become active and make the person sick.”

Puccio said the disease is difficult to acquire, and patients are usually in close quarters for long periods of time in order to contract the disease. He also said many people exposed to the disease often never develop symptoms.

No other students were diagnosed with TB during the past academic year, Puccio said. The last incident of TB on campus was in May 2012, when two students were diagnosed with TB that year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10,000 TB cases are reported in the U.S. annually, with an annual decline in the number of cases reported.

Students concerned about being exposed to TB are encouraged to call the Student Health Services nurse line at (813) 974-1797.

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