Student ill with tuberculosis

The University of Lethbridge is co-operating fully with Alberta Health Services Public Health officials to help connect them with students and members of the campus community who may have been in contact with a University of Lethbridge student living off campus who was recently diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB).

The student supervised one exam near the end of the school term, and was in limited contact with an estimated 75 students.

The U of L Registrar's Office has provided a complete list of names and contact information to public health officials so they can contact those individuals.

Public Health officials have contacted the student's roommates and immediate contacts on campus as well, and they are in the process of being assessed.

"We moved swiftly to co-operate with public health officials when they contacted us Thursday," says U of L Vice-President, Academic,
Dr. Andy Hakin.

"We are very grateful the student is receiving treatment and is recovering. At the same time, we are also concerned about the well-being of our students and employees on campus, so we are working quickly to ensure that public health officials can contact them to determine their level of exposure."

The case poses no risk to the general population.

As a special note to the campus community, only those individuals directly contacted by Alberta Health officials are affected. Freedom of Information and Privacy guidelines preclude releasing any information that would identify the student.

Only those individuals deemed to be in close contact with the ill person will be advised to have a TB skin test to help determine whether or not they are affected.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria can infect any body organ, but it only spreads to other people when it infects the lungs.

People may have a cough lasting longer than 3 weeks, fever, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, night sweats and constant tiredness.

A person can get TB when someone with TB coughs, sneezes or talks, placing the TB bacteria in the air. Another person may breathe in the bacteria.

An average healthy person needs to spend several hours a day over a few months with an infected person to get TB. In some cases the infection may be passed on in less time.

In most people exposed to TB the body seals off the infection. Only 10 per cent of people exposed to TB will develop an active disease.

Students or any member of the public with a concern about this illness can contact the Alberta Health Link hotline at 1-866-408-5465.