A Riverside City College student is being treated for active tuberculosis, prompting health officials Friday to issue an advisory recommending that anyone who may have come into contact with the patient be tested for TB.
“While the risk of infection is low, that doesn’t mean there is no risk, so it’s important that those who are notified take the time to get tested,” Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said. “If a person tests positive, we can treat them promptly.”
According to county Department of Public Health officials, the student — whose identity was not released — was diagnosed with TB earlier this week and is undergoing treatment, with expectations for a full recovery.
Officials are sending letters to more than 200 students and staff at RCC who may have come into contact with the patient, advising them to receive a TB test, according to county Communicable Diseases Specialist Barbara Cole.
TB screening begins with a quick skin scan. If that’s positive, the person is asked to take a chest X-ray to confirm infection.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tuberculosis is spread through coughing, sneezing, singing and speaking. People cannot be infected through hand-shaking, kissing or handling bedding and toilet seats, according to the CDC.
Health officials noted that some people can be infected with TB without manifesting symptoms, which include fever, coughing, night sweats and chest pain. Those with inactive TB are generally not infectious.
According to Cole, there were 61 confirmed TB cases countywide in 2018, and exactly 60 documented cases in 2017. In 2016, 51 people were infected, she said.