A student at Luther College has been diagnosed with a case of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) and is currently receiving treatment, according to a news release from the college.

The Iowa Department of Public Health's TB Control Program is investigating the case along with the Winneshiek County Public Health Department. The county department is interviewing the student regarding contact she has had with others and using the student's class list to determine who needs to be tested.

Positive diagnosis for active TB involves a series of tests. After all the tests have been completed, a patient's status can be confirmed.

"We have been working in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health TB Program and the Winneshiek County Public Health Department regarding this situation," Corey Landstrom, Luther vice president for student life, said.

"It is our understanding from conversations with both agencies and with information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that this diagnosis of active TB does not pose a serious health risk to our community. We encourage those with questions about the disease to review the fact sheet (from the CDC) and consult with medical professionals should they have further questions about their own personal situation," Landstrom continued.

"Based upon the conversations that have taken place with the above noted agencies, it is my understanding that a person's risk of exposure is generally low unless they have had long-term, frequent contact with someone who has TB disease. For example, in situations where someone with active TB is on an airplane flight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend testing other passengers for TB unless the flight is more than eight hours long."

Living off campus

The student is living in a college-owned apartment without roommates and will not be attending classes, college dining facilities or activities. Luther will share further appropriate information about the situation as it becomes available.

In Iowa, health departments routinely screen hundreds of individuals with possible TB exposure each year. Only people with prolonged contact with the person or persons with infectious TB are recommended to have a TB skin or blood test to determine if transmission has occurred.

TB is not easily transmitted and usually requires long-term repeated exposure to someone with infectious TB before they become infected, the college's release said.

Only persons with TB disease can transmit TB infection to others. The disease is treatable and curable with antibiotics. General symptoms of TB include cough lasting longer than three weeks, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, night sweats, fever, fatigue and chills.