Pontotoc County Health Department officials are investigating a case of active tuberculosis discovered in a student who attended East Central University last fall.
In a prepared statement, Oklahoma State Department of Health Regional Director Mendy Spohn said health officials are working closely with the university to notify persons that may have had close, prolonged contact with the student and conducting TB skin testing to determine infection.
“There are no other active or suspected cases of TB being investigated at this time in relation to this case,” Spohn said.
Health officials say individuals identified as contacts will receive a skin test upon initial notification, followed by the same test three months later. If either test is found to be positive, a medical evaluation and chest X-ray will be conducted by public health officials.
“If an individual has a positive skin test, that does not mean they have (the type of TB) that can infect others,” Spohn said. “People with TB infection (without disease) have TB bacteria in their body but are not sick because the bacteria are not active.”
Spohn said those individuals cannot spread the bacteria to others.
Health officials said preventive medication may be prescribed to an individual with a positive skin test to reduce their risk of developing active TB disease.
A person with active TB disease will experience symptoms that may include feeling weak or sick, weight loss, fever, night sweats, cough, chest pain and/or coughing up blood. Persons with active TB disease are treated by public health officials and isolated from other persons to control further spread to others until the person is no longer able to spread TB.
“(People) who have not been notified by the county health department or the university do not need to be tested,” Spohn said. “However, if you are concerned or do not know whether a significant exposure has occurred, contact the Pontotoc County Health Department at (580) 332-2011.”
General information concerning tuberculosis can be found on the Oklahoma State Department of Health website at www.ok.gov/health.
Contact Carl Lewis at 580-310-7520, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.