15 more students get tests for TB

Fifteen additional Eastern Michigan University students have been tested for tuberculosis after one case was confirmed Feb. 7. The students worked in the Eastern Eateries with the infected student.

Results from the TB tests were expected to be in Monday afternoon, but as of press time the results are not in.

A spokesperson for Washtenaw County Public Health Department could not be immediately reached for comment.

The international student has since withdrawn from her classes for the semester.

The Centers for Disease Control said TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacterium usually affects the lungs, but any part of the body can be affected.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another and becomes airborne when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.

Symptoms can include cough, chest pain, coughing up blood or phlegm, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and chills.

Paul Valenstein, Director of the Microbiology lab at St. Joseph’s Hospital, said Americans tend to unnecessarily rush to get tested for illnesses.

“The larger question is, do we really want to run to lab tests when we get nervous?” Valenstein said. “I think we really need to think about the risks; the risks are very low. I think that just because someone’s worried, that’s not enough reason to get a test.”

Valenstein said although the disease used to be common in the United States, it is now a rare occurrence.

“It’s not that common in the United States,” Valenstein said. “The incidents are decreasing every year.”

Valenstein said people tend to panic when they see news on diseases.

“It appears in the news because in other countries there is tuberculosis resistance to a number of drugs, but that is extremely rare in the United States,” Valenstein said.

Valenstein said children are particularly susceptible to tuberculosis, but individuals who do get TB recover fast.

“About 98 percent of people who inhale tuberculosis fight it off successfully and never get active disease,” he said.

Valenstein believes students shouldn’t panic.

“I wouldn’t want everyone that’s worried to go and get skin tests,” Valenstein said. “I have to get tested once a year because I work in a hospital, but the general public does not need to get skin tests because the incidents are so low.”

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