University of Moncton reassures students risk of TB is low

The University of Moncton is trying to reassure students the risk of developing tuberculosis from an infected student is low.

Administration confirms hospital patient with highly contagious type of disease is a business student

The University of Moncton is trying to reassure students the risk of developing tuberculosis from an infected student is low. 2:06

The University of Moncton is trying to reassure students the risk of developing tuberculosis from an infected student is low.

The administration informed students on Tuesday that they may have been exposed to a potentially highly contagious type of tuberculosis.

The patient suffering from laryngeal tuberculosis at the Dr.-Georges-L.-Dumont Hospital in Moncton is a student from the business faculty, they said.

"Everyone's talking about it, and they’re like, 'Did you heard about this?'" said third-year finance student Melanie Boudreau. "Ya, the word’s pretty much spread already."

Boudreau says she found out through an email. "We were like pretty much informed pretty fast about it. And I think everyone's taking it good, so it's pretty good."

Some business students from Africa told CBC News they're a bit on edge because back home, TB is a disease with scary consequences.

TB affects the lungs and if left untreated, can lead to death.

But university officials say exposure was limited. The infected student attended only four classes for one week before being hospitalized on Sept. 10.

No need to worry

Dr. Yves Leger, the district medical officer of health for the Moncton region, says students and faculty shouldn't worry.

"There could be a lot of concern or anxiety when we talk about this kind of situation, but the risk is extremely low for the general public and the university population as a whole," he said.

"For most cases of tuberculosis, for transmission to occur, you'd usually have to have fairly close and fairly prolonged contact. So very casual short term contact usually does not pose a risk."

The university says it is co-operating fully with the public health department. A list of students, professors and other staff at the university who may have been in contact with the patient is being compiled.

Over the next few days, health professionals will be present in the classes in which the affected student would have been present during the contamination period in order to answer questions.

Meanwhile, public health is following up with an estimated 100 people who were in close contact with the infected student at the hospital prior to the confirmed diagnosis on Sept. 17.

"In this case, although the type of TB may be more contagious than we might see in a usual situation, the good thing is that this individual consulted quite rapidly and was diagnosed fairly quickly so that individual was not in the community going to different types of events for many, many months," said Leger.

Medical authorities are confident that only those who had close contact with the affected student are at risk of infection. And they say it is highly unlikely that any of those exposed will require screening or medical treatment.

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


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