A rare disease has reared its head on the campus of Piedmont Virginia Community College. A student has been diagnosed with Tuberculosis, a potentially deadly disease, commonly known as TB. Now the Thomas Jefferson Health District and PVCC are alerting students and faculty about the health issue and what they need to do.
On September 13 the student advised PVCC's dean of student services about the diagnosis. The health department was notified. Since then both PVCC and the health department have worked to identify 230 students and 6 faculty members who are considered "at-risk" of exposure.
PVCC Spokesperson Anita Showers said, "In consultation with the health officials who guided us in terms of who is considered at risk - we were able to identify the population of students and faculty."
PVCC says the students and faculty members who may have come in contact with the sick student need to keep a close eye on themselves for symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "symptoms of TB disease depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs (pulmonary TB). TB disease in the lungs may cause symptoms such as:
Officials say the sick student has been isolated. There is no word on their condition.
TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is spread through the air from person to person.
Dr. Lilian Peake, the director of the Thomas Jefferson Health District said, "If you spend a lot of time with a person who has TB then you are at risk of breathing in the bacteria that are from that person, released into the air into your own body and becoming infected."
The health department is setting up a special TB testing clinic for those from PVCC who were exposed. The health department is always able and ready to test anyone for TB, contact your local health department for more information. If you test positive - there are antibiotics you can take.
The health department says this is not an outbreak of TB, at this point, this is an isolated case. They stress that the PVCC campus is safe.
Dr. Peake said, "The general public should not be alarmed about this."
To put this in perspective - the health district normally sees about four TB cases each year.
PVCC Press Release 10/07/2010
Fact Sheet on Student with TB
1. A student at PVCC has tested positive for tuberculosis (TB).
2. The student notified PVCC's Dean of Student Services on Sept. 13 of the positive TB test. The dean apprised PVCC's administration the same day.
3. The Thomas Jefferson Health District (TJHD) contacted PVCC's Dean of Student Services to notify the College of a TB case and collaborate on the situation.
4. The TJHD advised PVCC that TB is not contracted through casual contact. PVCC identified 230 students and six faculty who fit the risk criterion of extended and repeated contact with the individual and provided the names and addresses of the students to the TJHD.
5. The weeks of Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, PVCC notified the affected faculty.
6. On Oct. 4, a joint letter from PVCC and TJHD was mailed to each of the identified students informing them of their possible exposure and recommending that they go to their local health department for free testing or contact a private physician. The letter indicated that the THJD has arranged for free testing at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Health Department during a special clinic just for notified PVCC students/faculty, and included contact information for health departments and a toll-free number to call for general information. Informative literature was enclosed with each letter.
7. On Oct. 6, PVCC's Dean of Student Services e-mailed all faculty, staff and students apprising them of the situation and providing online fact sheets, Web sites and a toll-free hotline number. The e-mail emphasized that TB cannot be spread through casual contact and is treatable. It also noted that those at PVCC considered to be at risk due to extended and repeated contact with the individual have been identified and are being notified.
8. PVCC and TJHD continue to monitor the situation.
9. More information about TB may be obtained through this toll-free number, 1.877.275.8343; through any county or city health department in Virginia (addresses at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/lhd); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/tb/ or the Virginia Department of Health at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/DiseasePrevention/Programs/Tuberculosis/.