RICHMOND (WRIC)—As a precaution, Virginia Commonwealth University is notifying approximately 300 students that they may have been exposed to tuberculosis.
"It's a little bit frightening just to think that we could be exposed to something that severe," said VCU freshman Kirsten Ferguson.
Tuberculosis is a potentially fatal disease that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, could attack the lungs or other body parts.
"We were notified by the Richmond City Health Department that a student who had briefly attended classes at VCU had developed tuberculosis," said Dr. Margaret Roberson, VCU's director of student health. "We are in the process of contacting the students that were in the four classes, so that we can inform them of their exposure."
VCU says students who came in contact with that person have a low risk of contracting the infection.
"Most people, when they're exposed to tuberculosis, will have a good immune response to it and they will actually wall it off in their bodies and they will not have symptoms," Roberson said. "Even though they are infected, they will not be contagious."
Still, some students are wondering how this incident happened in the first place, as a tuberculosis screening is required for all entering students.
"I think it's really important that schools ask you to get tested before you come on campus, just so that stuff doesn't happen," said Megan Flanders, a VCU junior. "But the fact that you can still get it after you've already gotten in is still scary."
The school has sent out emails to anyone who may have been exposed; these students are eligible for free screenings.
"They are pretty, pretty quick at sending out emails and just spreading the word about stuff that students need to know," said VCU student Cudjoe Bamfo.
VCU health officials and the Virginia Health Department will be visiting the four classes in which students may have been exposed. Students who have questions are invited to call Student Health at 804-828-8828; concerned faculty and staff members should contact Employee Health at 804-828-0584.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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