Tuberculosis Diagnosed in UC Berkeley Student

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In March a student at Salem State College in Massachusetts was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Earlier this month a pediatric resident physician was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Now a UC Berkeley student has been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

The University and Berkeley city health officials are notifying the 225 UC Berkeley students and faculty who had close contact with the student. These folk will be given information about how they should be screened for the disease. It is important to note that tuberculosis cannot be passed through brief or casual contact.

Tuberculosis is a slow-growing bacterial disease that usually affects the lungs but can also affect the brain, kidneys, spine and other body parts. The disease, which can be fatal if left untreated, remains common in many developing countries and is still found in the United States.

Symptoms of "active" TB include coughing, night sweats, fever, chills and weight loss. When the disease is in the lungs, the symptoms may also include coughing, chest pain, and the coughing up of blood.

People with TB disease are most likely to spread the germs to people they spend time with every day, such as family members or coworkers. To become infected, another person must directly inhale TB germs - transmitted by the coughs and sneezes of the sick person - over an extended length of time.

Screening for TB is most commonly done using a skin test. This involves the injection of a small amount of fluid (called tuberculin) into the skin in the lower part of the arm. A person given the tuberculin skin test must return within 48 to 72 hours to have a trained health care worker look for a reaction on the arm.

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When the skin test is “positive” it only tells physicians and medical personnel that the person has been infected with TB germs. It does not tell whether or not the person has progressed to TB disease. Other tests, such as a chest x-ray and a sample of sputum, are needed to see whether the person actually has Tuberculosis disease.

TB disease can be treated by taking several drugs for 6 to 12 months. It is very important that people who have TB disease finish the medicine, and take the drugs exactly as prescribed.

There were 12,898 cases of TB reported in the U.S. in 2008, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 214 cases were diagnosed in Chicago.

Other Related Articles

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New Case – Tuberculosis Continues to Be a Problem

Patients at Three Chicago Hospitals Exposed to TB by Physician

Sources
San Francisco Chronicle
Center for Disease Control and Prevention

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