Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Public safety

150 will undergo tuberculosis testing at USF after possible exposure to disease

TAMPA — A group of about 150 University of South Florida students, faculty, staff and community members will get tuberculosis testing after a possible case of the disease turned up earlier this week, health officials said.

A student earlier this week was found to have what experts believe is tuberculosis. He has since been placed in isolation and given tuberculosis drug therapy, according to the Hillsborough County Health Department.

Health officials did not identify the student due to federal privacy laws.

Tuberculosis is a serious — sometimes fatal — disease that typically affects the lungs but can 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. It cannot be spread by direct contact, such as shaking someone's hand, sharing food or drink, touching the same surfaces, sharing toothbrushes or kissing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The possibly infected student "no longer poses a health risk to others," officials said in a statement Friday.

In order to determine who may have been exposed to the disease, health investigators looked at what classes the student was in, where he lives and his activities, said Steve Huard, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Health Department.

"This is pretty much TB investigation 101," Huard said. "The good thing is TB's been around for a long time, so we know how this disease is spread, we know who's at risk and we know how to treat it."

Heath officials expect up to 10 percent of those screened will test positive for tuberculosis, Huard said.

Those who do will be referred to the county's TB clinic, where they will undergo medical background checks, screenings and counseling.

Those infected with active tuberculosis may experience a bad, long-lasting cough, pain in the chest, coughing up blood, weakness, fatigue, weight loss, chills, fever or night sweats, according to the CDC. However, the illness does not always cause sickness.

In most cases, the immune system is able to fight the bacteria in time to stop them from growing, according to the CDC. This causes what is known as latent TB.

The only sign of a latent TB infection is a positive reaction to a skin or blood test.

Latent tuberculosis is not contagious and only poses a health risk if a person contracts other diseases that break down the immune system, allowing TB bacteria to become active and grow out of control.

"Nobody's life is at risk here," Huard said. "It's very treatable."

By midafternoon Friday, the news of the infection had spread throughout the USF community. Some students said they'd like to know more details about the infected student — whether he lives on or off campus and what department he's in.

"It's an airborne disease," said freshman Maria Mitchell, 19. "I'm a little worried because I don't know who it is, or where it may have spread."

But most students said they did not feel vulnerable to the disease.

"I'm not worried," said graduate student Frank Ao, 25. "It's a big campus, and TB isn't as serious a threat anymore."

Parents, students said, would probably feel differently. Many said they wouldn't be reporting home about the incident.

"My family just watched the movie Contagion," said freshman Cristina Vasquez, 18. "So, I imagine this bit of information wouldn't go over too well."

USF students and employees with concerns about their exposure to the bacteria can call the Student Health Services nurse line at (813) 974-1797. TB testing appointments can be made at Student Health Services by calling (813) 974-2331.

Anyone who is not a student or employee at USF has been asked to direct concerns to the Hillsborough County Health Department at (813) 307-8047.

Contact Marissa Lang at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386.

Comments
Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Deadly Sunday for swimmers in bay area waters

Two people drowned and another suffered life-threatening injuries in the waters of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.Investigators said all three cases appear to be accidents, but the incidents stand as a reminder that summer, with vacation ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

Pinellas deputies arrest Mississippi man 31 years after sexual battery

SEMINOLE — She was 22 when deputies said a man forced her at knifepoint into the woods off Seminole Boulevard and sexually battered her in February 1987.The case went cold, but now the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it has arrested the man it ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and drove off

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian on Sunday night and then drove off.The incident took place at 9:15 p.m. near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh Avenue.No details a...
Updated: 8 hours ago
St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, seven months pregnant, dies in Pasco crash

HUDSON — A 16-year-old St. Petersburg teen who was seven months pregnant was fatally injured in a crash Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The incident took place at 9:11 p.m. on Little Road south of Hudson Avenue. The teen, Emily ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

A Tampa man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries on Sunday after he was rescued from a near drowning off the shores of Whiskey Joe’s Tampa Bar & Grill, a popular hangout on the beach of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.When police officers a...
Published: 06/18/18
Man caught in rip current, drowns off Lido Beach

Man caught in rip current, drowns off Lido Beach

A man who was swimming off Lido Beach got caught in a rip current and drowned Sunday night.According to the Sarasota Police Department, the unidentified man was swimming with a woman near Big Pass, a boater channel, around 10 p.m. before becoming cau...
Published: 06/18/18
Child, 1, killed in single-car crash in Ruskin

Child, 1, killed in single-car crash in Ruskin

RUSKIN — A 1-year-old child was killed Sunday night and four family members were hospitalized when their vehicle overturned into a ditch.Deputies, responding to the scene after receiving several 911 calls around 6:30 p.m., located the overturned vehi...
Published: 06/18/18
Tampa man drowns in waters near Gandy Bridge

Tampa man drowns in waters near Gandy Bridge

A Tampa man drowned Sunday night in the waters on the Pinellas side of the Gandy Bridge.According to Pinellas County deputies, 28-year-old Cruz Sales-Lopez was swimming with girlfriend Erika Fuentes Ambrosio, 33, near the northwest side of the Gandy ...
Published: 06/18/18
St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

A St. Petersburg teen, 16, and her unborn child were killed Sunday night in a crash in Pasco County, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol. Emily Pearson was killed on Little Road at 9:11 p.m. She was a passenger in a 1997 Ford Rang...
Published: 06/18/18
Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

NEW PORT RICHEY — A motorcyclist and pedestrian both died in a crash Saturday night near Palmetto Road and U.S. 19, police reported.About 10:30 p.m., a St. Petersburg man, 41, was riding a 2012 Honda motorcycle north on the highway, according to the ...
Published: 06/17/18