TAMPA — For the second time this semester, a University of South Florida student is suspected of contracting tuberculosis.
The unnamed student is now undergoing precautionary drug therapy in isolation as about 30 students, faculty, staff and community members who USF said could have come in contact with the disease prepare to be tested.
In February, another USF student was presumed to have caught the disease and was treated in isolation. At that time, 150 people were deemed at risk and tested. USF said the incidents appear unrelated.
It's not unusual to have two unrelated TB cases in that period of time, particularly given the campus's dense population of more than 40,000 people, said Hillsborough County Health Department Tuberculosis Center Manager Jylmarie Lewis.
Tuberculosis is a serious, sometimes fatal disease that typically affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. The bacteria that causes the disease is airborne and can be spread when an infected person coughs, talks, sings or sneezes.
While the number of reported TB cases in the United States is decreasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 11,000 people got the disease in 2010, the most recent data available.
USF says any additional students or employees who want to be tested should call Student Health Services at 813-974-2331.
Kim Wilmath can be reached at [email protected] or 813-226-3337.