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Active tuberculosis found at University of Missouri

A University of Missouri student has left campus voluntarily after being diagnosed with active tuberculosis, the MU News Bureau said in a news release Monday.

MU officials are working with local health authorities as they identify other people who need to be tested for the illness, the release said.

“The student has been extremely cooperative with campus and local health officials,” Susan Even, director of the MU Student Health Center, said in the release. “We’ll continue to provide any assistance necessary to the Columbia/Boone County Health department and provide the community with periodic updates.”

Health department spokesman Jason Wilcox said the department is working with MU Student Health to identify the people who have been in close contact with the infected student. Health authorities will follow up with those people on an individual basis, he said.

It wasn’t clear when the student was diagnosed or when he or she left campus.

Doctor Christelle Ilboudo, a specialist in pediatric infectious disease, said TB most commonly spreads when a person infected with active TB coughs or speaks.

She said a person can have latent tuberculosis for years, but will only have symptoms and become contagious when the disease is active.

“Either they have reactivated that infection that was quarantined or they get a new infection,” Ilboudo said. “Those are people that have symptoms coughing, fevers, weight loss or chills.”

Ilboudo said it can take a couple weeks for a person with active TB to experience syptoms.

Anyone at high risk will be advised to get tested for TB on campus or at the health department, the release said. MU said it will release no other information about the student or his or her condition because of federal privacy laws.

ABC 17 News talked to students who confirmed the student lived in the Gateway residence hall. Kansas City station KCTV had earlier reported the student was a Gateway resident.

Active tuberculosis occurs when a person infected with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis begins to show symptoms of the infection. About 5 to 10 percent of those infected progress to active disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Health authorities say more than 2 billion people worldwide might be infected, but the lowest rates of infection are in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Western Europe and Australia.

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