31 CNU students to be tested after exposure to TB

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Department of Health is requiring 31 students at Christopher Newport University to be tested for tuberculosis after they were exposed to an infected student.

Sometime Wednesday, the CNU community received an email from the school’s administration, informing it of a student who had tested positive for the tuberculosis infection. While the student is being treated and won’t return to campus until well, other students now have to be tested.

“The Virginia Peninsula Health District has conducted a full assessment and has identified 31 students who were exposed to the individual in a manner that supports further evaluation,” read part of the school’s email to students, staff and faculty.

Dr. Nzinga Teule-Hekima, the Director of the Peninsula Health District, told WAVY.com there is no ongoing public health risks at the university. She said she doesn’t want to alarm the CNU community with the current situation, but wants to inform about tuberculosis.

“It is spread through the air by people with active TB,” she said. “They spread it by coughing, sneezing, singing, and speaking.”

10 On Your Side contacted low and no risk CNU students, like Erin Lynn, who was told she does not need to take the TB test.

“I guess I was exposed, but because I wasn’t around that person as often as the other 31 kids, I don’t need to get tested,” she said.

However, Erin is frustrated with the lack of information on when and where she could have been exposed: “I’m more concerned about how I knew that person. I’m not concerned I have it at all.”

The Health Department understands there is that fine line between a need to know, and privacy issues.

“There is a desire to send out information to the general public, just to try and mitigate fear, or panic, and let people know what is going on, and a lot of time that is done in a college setting because it is a close knit setting,” Dr. Teule-Hekima said.

The affected students have been individually contacted and will have to report results of a TB skin test to the Virginia Peninsula Health District before they can start the fall semester.

CNU told the community no one other than the 31 students were at risk.

If you want to know more about tuberculosis, check out the VDH website: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/tb/

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