State confirms Oahu college student has active TB

Published On: Mar 19 2012 05:00:00 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 26 2012 09:35:56 AM HST

HONOLULU -

The state Department of Health has confirmed that a student who studied at Kapiolani Community College and currently goes to Hawaii Pacific University has active tuberculosis.

Richard Brostrom, Chief of the DOH Tuberculosis Control Branch, said the student is not in school and is responding well to treatment.

"Tuberculosis usually requires many hours of close indoor contact to spread to others, so the department will be testing students and faculty who shared the same classroom with the ill student," said Brostrom.  "The school screening represents an extra measure of safety for the individuals, their families, and the community."

The student with TB enrolled at Kapiolani Community College in fall of 2011.  That student transferred to Hawaii Pacific University in spring of 2012.

This week, 95 students and faculty members at KCC were getting screened for TB.  120 students and faculty members will be screened for TB the week of April 2.

TB is a disease that is commonly seen in the lungs and is spread from person to person through the air.

When a person with active TB disease in the lung or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings, tiny drops containing M. tuberculosis may be spread into the air.

If another person breathes in these drops there is a chance that they will become infected with TB.

TB may not cause a problem for many years after exposure.  Two forms of TB exist, both of which are treatable and curable:

  • Latent TB infection – when a person has TB bacteria in their body but the body’s immune system is protecting them and they are not sick.  Someone with latent TB infection cannot spread the infection to other people.
  • Active TB disease – when a person becomes sick with TB because their immune system can no longer protect them.  Someone with active TB disease may be able to spread the disease to other people.

The state has a Tuberculosis Control Program website and you can read more about TB in Hawaii there.

You can see more on this story tonight on KITV4 News at 5 and 6.

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