Maui News

TB Testing Planned at Kapiolani College & HPU

March 19, 2012, 3:26 PM HST
* Updated March 19, 3:27 PM
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Image courtesy Hawaii DOH, TB brochure.

By Maui Now Staff

State health officials will test students and faculty at Kapiolani Community College and Hawai’i Pacific University for tuberculosis due to possible exposure from a student being treated for active TB.

An estimated 95 students and faculty will be tested at KCC this week; and another 120 students and faculty will be tested at HPU during the week of April 2.

“The student with tuberculosis is not in school, and doing well under treatment at our clinic,” said Dr. Richard Brostrom, Chief of the DOH Tuberculosis Control Branch.

“Tuberculosis usually requires many hours of close indoor contact to spread to others, so the department will be testing students and faculty who shared the same classroom with the ill student. The school screening represents an extra measure of safety for the individuals, their families, and the community,” said Dr. Brostrom.

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TB is an airborne disease that is commonly seen in the lungs.  Health officials say that when a person with active TB in the lung or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings, tiny drops containing M. tuberculosis may be spread into the air.

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If another person breathes in those drops, state health officials say, there is a chance that they will become infected with TB.

According to health authorities, TB may not cause a problem for many years after exposure. Two forms of TB exist, both of which are treatable and curable including:

  • Latent TB infection: when a person has TB bacteria in their body, but the body’s immune system is protecting them and they are not sick. Someone with latent TB infection cannot spread the infection to other people.
  • Active TB disease: when a person becomes sick with TB because their immune system can no longer protect them. Someone with active TB disease may be able to spread the disease to other people.

For more information on tuberculosis or TB testing, the public can call the Department of Health, Hawai‘i Tuberculosis Control Program at 832-5731 or visit the following websites:

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Hawaii State Department of Health: www.hawaii.gov/health/tb

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/tb

***Supporting information courtesy Hawai’i State Department of Health.

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