Tuberculosis case confirmed at University of Moncton

The University of Moncton has another confirmed case of tuberculosis and the student has likely been contagious since mid-March, officials say.

Student is the 2nd one to contract TB in less than a year, may have been contagious since March

The University of Moncton has another confirmed case of tuberculosis and the student has likely been contagious since mid-March, officials say.

This is the second case of TB at the Moncton campus in less than a year.

Tests confirmed the latest diagnosis in May and the results were made public on Tuesday.

Public Health is investigating how the infected student, who was registered for the winter session, attended classes and wrote exams, contracted the disease.

But university spokesperson Thérèse Thériault contends there is little to no risk of other students becoming infected.

Still, the administration is working closely with Public Health to contact students who may have had direct contact with the student and have them tested, she said.

"It's been several weeks that we've been working with them to establish the list based on the classes that the person had been registered in and then from there, we've met with them several times to get everything organized so that the proper people could be advised," Thériault told CBC News.

TB usually attacks the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys, lymph nodes and spine. If left untreated, it can lead to death.

Dr. Yves Leger, the medical officer of health for the East Region, says the infected student is doing well following treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.

But a full investigation will be conducted to determine the source.

"That's part of our investigation, really, to determine where the case might have acquired the infection, when was there a period of contagiousness, so when did they potentially start becoming contagious to others, who they were in contact with, which settings have they visited," he said.

Cases don't appear to be linked

It does not appear the latest case is linked to the previous one, said Leger.

Last September, the university administration informed students they may have been exposed to a potentially highly contagious type of TB — laryngeal tuberculosis.

"In this case its not that form of tuberculosis," said Leger. "It's in the lungs, as it often is with other forms of tuberculosis, so it's probably much less contagious than what was the situation last autumn," he said.

"Even though we haven't been able to find links between the two cases, either from having similar friends or contacts, or having attended similar courses, you know, there may be links there that we haven't been able to find, but that further analysis of the bacteria will be able to tell us if they are possibly linked or not."

During the previous incident, the administration had said the risk of infection was low because exposure was limited. The student from the business faculty had only attended four classes for one week before being hospitalized at the Dr.-Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre, they said.

No other information about the infected student was revealed, but the case lead to widespread testing of anyone who might have come into contact with that person.

TB is caused by the bacteria mycobacterium tuberculosis and is spread from person to person through the air. When someone with active TB coughs, sneezes, or sometimes even talks, tiny droplets containing TB germs are released into the air, where they can remain for hours.

Symptoms of TB include chronic coughing, in some cases, coughing up blood, fever or night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue. But it could be months or even years before those symptoms present themselves.

TB is treated by taking several drugs for up to one year.

It claims more than a million lives a year worldwide, but has largely been eradicated in North America.

New Brunswick has had an average of six TB cases reported per year since 2005, according to a 2011 report by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.