Friday, an Iowa State student tested positive for tuberculosis. University officials say they don’t remember the last time they reported an active case of the disease.
Iowa State University director of student health, Michelle Hendricks’s says, “It’s not common but it’s not unheard of. TB is an interesting and complex disease.”
Tuberculosis is a respiratory disease that cannot be easily spread, a factor working in favor for the university.
“Casual contact, really passing someone in the hall or having a short interaction won’t create the risk for spread,” says Hendricks.
Every semester, during the first few weeks of school, the ISU medical staff screens international students for two types of tuberculosis: contagious and non-contagious.
Iowa State has screened 1,000 students and one student’s test results showed he or she was contagious. Hendricks says the student has already begun treatment.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, in 2011 more than 10,000 people had tuberculosis, 62 percent of those were foreign born.
Sarah Boese with the Polk County Public Health says Iowa has a relatively low number of contagious cases. Last year the state reported 46 cases of contagious tuberculosis, the majority in Polk County and three in Story County.
Iowa State says they have taken the student out of the dorms and into an isolation room off campus.