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Sources: Dr. Robert Tackett and Dr. Curtis Wolfe, 785-532-6544
News release prepared by: Cheryl May, 785-532-6415,

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009


MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University student who recently began taking long-term treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis disease has been admitted to Mercy Regional Health Center for mandated treatment of multidrug resistant tuberculosis. The student has not shown any symptoms while at K-State but the mycobacterium organism has shown resistance to some of the first line of medications.

Physicians from K-State's Lafene Health Center and Mercy Regional are working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and a state tuberculosis expert on the treatment plan. The patient has a low risk to pass the disease to others but K-State, the state Department of Health and Environment and the Riley County health department are working together to identify and evaluate individuals who may have had significant close contact with the student.

"A contact investigation will be started immediately," said Dr. Robert Tackett, medical director of K-State's Lafene Health Center. "People who need to be evaluated will be contacted by local health officials. Recommended testing will be free of charge and consists of a skin test on the arm. In addition, some evaluations include blood tests, chest X-rays and/or sputum collections."

TB is spread through the air by coughing, laughing, singing and sneezing. The only way to develop a tuberculosis infection is by prolonged close contact: several hours a day over several days, in a small confined area and in very close proximity to a person who has active disease, Tackett said. TB cannot be spread by contact with someone's clothing, or eating utensils. Only 5-10 percent of people who are infected with TB and have a normal immune system will ever develop TB disease in their lifetime, Tackett said. Of those who develop disease, it develops at the earliest, months after exposure. However, people with HIV infection or other disorders of the immune system are at much greater risk of developing disease: a 5-10 percent chance per year.

Symptoms of TB Disease include a cough that persists longer than three weeks, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, chills, fever, coughing up blood, fatigue, and/or blood in the urine. TB can be treated and cured with appropriate medications.