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Brandeis student diagnosed with tuberculosis; 250 students and staff to be tested

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  December 7, 2012 01:02 PM

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Brandeis University officials are having about 250 students, faculty and staff tested for tuberculosis after one student was diagnosed with the disease earlier this week.

Bill Burger, a spokesman for the university, said the student was diagnosed on Tuesday, Dec. 3, and is being treated in isolation, but declined to say if he or she is still on campus.

Burger said the university contacted 250 people - mostly students - to interview them and order tests for those thought to have been exposed.

"That process is underway and will continue for some time," he said.

However, Burger said that there are about five individuals who have had extended contact with the affected student, and that university is already awaiting their test results.

Burger said in addition to the 250 individuals thought to be exposed to the disease, university officials have emailed the entire campus community to advise them of the situation.

"Everyone on campus is aware of this," he said, adding that he does not remember any cases of TB at the university in recent years.

Tuberculosis is a contagious infectious disease that usually affects the lungs, but may spread to other organs. Untreated, the disease could be fatal, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.

Individuals can contract TB by breathing in air droplets from an infected person, according to the CDC. It cannot be contracted by shaking hands, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, or kissing.

Symptoms of the disease include a bad cough for three or more weeks, chest pains, fatigue and weakness, weight loss, chills, fever, and night sweating, according to the CDC.

Infected persons are usually treated with medicine for six to nine months, the CDC said.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com


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