TB scare hits campus
Posted Sept. 12, 2008


A tuberculosis scare prompted an Aug. 28 University of La Verne Health Center e-mail to the ULV community about a summer program participant found to be infected with TB.

The infected high school student was a member of the REACH camp hosted by the College of Business and Public Management.

ULV's College of Business and Public Management invited high school students to join them for the third annual summer REACH program, where the students are given the opportunity to experience higher education and dorm life. The camp was held July 7-25.

The Public Health Depart­ment contacted the University after the student had sought medical attention with symptoms believed to be tuberculosis.

Students and faculty members who participated in the program have been identified after a week-long process, and a selection of high-risk persons were made.

The ULV community has been assured that there is no real threat to the health of the rest of the campus.

Tuberculosis is primarily contracted by inhaling airborne bacteria while in close contact with an individual who is infected with an active form of the disease.

One cannot contract tuberculosis through contact with clothing or general items or by being in an area that an infected individual has been because of its short lifespan outside of the body.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe tuberculosis as a disease caused by bacteria (mycobacterium tuberculosis) that can attack many body parts but, most often, affects the lungs.

If not treated properly, tuberculosis can be fatal.

According to the Director of Student Health Services Cynthia Denne, the ULV Health Center feels comfortable and in control of the situation at hand.

After being contacted by the public health nurse in Pomona, the Health Center and business school followed the guidelines given to them.

The business school shared the names of the participants in the program with the Health Center to make sure all necessary precautions could be taken and all participants were made aware of the tuberculosis case.

The Health Center staff took action and felt the need to educate, as well as to extend their services.

They made sure students were aware that ULV offers healthcare on campus.

The Health Center offers many services for free, but some things are available for a fee.

In terms of immunizations and vaccinations, there are limited options.

A meningitis vaccination can be acquired for $85 and tetanus shots are free.

Tuberculosis tests are also offered at the Health Center.

The University’s insurance does not cover any other vaccinations, so they are not offered at the Health Center.

Despite encouragement to get vaccinated for other dangerous diseases such as meningitis, tuberculosis is not on the regular list of vaccinations to receive before attending college. However, ULV does not require it.

According to the CDC’s Web site, the tuberculosis vaccine is not readily administered in the United States.

Hundreds of ULV students live on campus, and these students need to feel safe and healthy while calling Brandt, Stu-Han or the Oaks home.

During the spring of 2005 freshman Carlos Carrazco was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis—an illness often associated with young adults in close living quarters such as a dormitory.

Like the recent tuberculosis scare, the meningitis scare forced ULV’s Health Center to make sure the University’s students feel at ease.

Denne recalled that close to 100 students took advantage of the Health Center’s services after the meningitis scare in 2005.

Fortunately, no other students were infected with meningitis.

ULV does not know if more students who participated in the business camp were infected with TB.

The Los Angeles County Public Health Department is handling the investigation of at-risk individuals.

The Pomona public health nurse has let ULV know that the student participants’ test results will most likely read positive for tuberculosis.

All of the testing could take several weeks or months.

Denne encourages students to take advantage of the services offered at the Health Center, but declares that the most important thing for students to do is use common sense.

“Students should use proper hand washing techniques often,” Denne said.

She cautions students against sharing eating utensils or drinks.

Denne said ULV students must make themselves aware and practice cleanliness.

Victoria Farlow can be reached at victoria.farlow@
laverne.edu.

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