CLEMSON, SC — A Clemson University student has been diagnosed with tuberculosis and state health officials are contacting about 35 other students who have been in close contact with the sick student so they can be tested, according to a statement from the university.
“The TB screening tests are precautionary because a student is being treated after exhibiting symptoms of the disease. Most of the individuals who are being contacted shared a classroom with the infected person during the spring semester,” the statement says.
The student diagnosed with TB is no longer on campus, according to the statement.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control is conducting the investigation and may contact more students or staff members if warranted, the statement says.
“Clemson University’s Redfern Health Center is working to assist the public health officials as needed. Students who have not been contacted by DHEC but who have questions can call Judy Leroy at Redfern Health Center at 864-656-4635,” the statement says
A positive screening test does not mean someone has the disease; only that they have been exposed to the bacteria at some point in their lives, the statement says, citing DHEC. Most people never get the disease and are not contagious, it says. A positive screening test may lead to further tests, such as a chest X-ray, the statement says.
“TB can be passed along when a person with active TB disease coughs bacteria into the air and someone close by breathes them in,” the statement says. “According to DHEC, TB cannot be spread by contact with contaminated surfaces, such as door knobs or by shaking hands. It takes prolonged, consistent contact for transmission and infection to occur.
“Only 10 percent of those who are exposed and infected by the bacteria actually develop the disease over their life spans. About 175 new cases of the disease are reported each year in South Carolina.”
TB responds well to antibiotics, DHEC says. Cases of extremely drug-resistant TB are rare.