Second VCU student tests positive for tuberculosis

Posted at 11:23 PM, Oct 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-03 00:20:03-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - A second case of tuberculosis has been confirmed at Virginia Commonwealth University, university officials stated Tuesday night.

"Just the idea of it is frightening," said Christopher Lynn, a VCU student.

Beverly J. Warren, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at VCU, said in an email Tuesday night to faculty, staff and students that the second case was picked up in routine screening.

Just last week the university issued a warning to students that they may have been exposed to tuberculosis. However, Warren said in an email that “state health officials have determined the two recent cases are not related.”

"The time between transmission of the disease to onset of the disease is a very long time, so there's o way because that's month to years. There's no way that case a transmitted it to case b," said Dr. Donald Stern, Richmond City Public Health Director.

Stern also said the number of TB cases has been on the downward trend in Richmond.

"Six years ago we had 20 to 25 cases in Richmond per year. No, we're about seven to 10 cases per year," said Dr. Stern.

Warren also wrote that the “Virginia Department of Health considers the risk to the general VCU community to be insignificant based on analysis of student/staff schedules and possible common locations on campus.”

VCU is notifying students and faculty in the affected classes and will ensure that anybody who might have been exposed is offered screening.

According to state health officials, tuberculosis can be passed from person to person when when the infected person coughs or sneezes. People nearby breathing in the bacteria can become infected.

People with compromised immune systems, especially those with HIV infection, are more likely to develop the disease if exposed.

Read more about tuberculosis, formerly the leading cause of death in America, here.

Health officials also note that there are two types conditions, latent TB infection and TB disease. Individuals who carry the disease without showing sign of infection have latent TB infection. The school has not stated which condition the students had.