USF Tampa student diagnosed with tuberculosis

5:09 PM, Jul 17, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- The University of South Florida reported one student was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in the first week of July.

That student attended the spring and summer semesters at the Tampa campus.  He or she is on TB drug therapy and in isolation off campus. 

The Director of Medical Services, Dr. Joseph Puccio, said no one is currently at risk on the campus.

However, the Dean for Students said 90 other students including staff and faculty have been contacted to be screened.  Those 90 people were in close contact with the infected student, according to Dr. Puccio. 

"Anything that could be released when a person is talking, coughing, sneezing, is a risk when that person is near the infected person for a long time," said Dr. Puccio. "It is based on droplets, meaning if the infected person's saliva get's on you in any way, you are more at risk.  If you are outside in an open area and not standing near that person for a long period of time, you are at a low to no risk. But if you are inside a confined area for several hours, then you are at more of a risk and should be tested."

Those 90 people will be tested nest week.  The reason they are waiting one week to be tested is because it takes up to eight weeks for TB to show up in a skin or blood TB test result, according to the Hillsborough County Health Department. 

"We were in a group when we read the email and everyone kind of scooted away from each other, you know. Nobody wants that to happen," says Taylor Sarni, an incoming freshman who has already started attending a few summer courses.

"There are a lot of new students on campus with their parents and I am sure it is already hard enough for them to say goodbye to their children and now they also have to worry about a recent TB diagnosis.  That makes them more worrisome," said the student. 

The symptoms of TB are: a persistent cough, constant fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, coughing up blood and night sweats. 

In 2012 there were two reported cases of tuberculosis on the USF Tampa campus.

This TB case has not been connected to last week's active TB case in Hillsborough County.

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