ADH: NWACC Student Tests Positive For Tuberculosis

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BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- A student at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville tested positive for tuberculosis, the Arkansas Department of Health confirmed Tuesday (Dec. 1).

The school was notified on Nov. 25 and ADH is now offering testing to instructors and students who had class with the infected individual. The Benton County Health Unit told 5NEWS the testing is being handled by the state.

According to Steven Hinds, Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing, the TB-infected student is currently receiving medical care and will return once he or she is cleared by doctors. The student was part-time and attended two classes, Hinds said. The average class size is 19 people, but Hinds said he wasn't sure how many students were in these particular classes.

Hinds said the students who were potentially exposed were contacted and some are getting blood tests. The results should be in in about a week, and Hinds said the college will only hear back about the results if a person tests positive.

While NWACC is encouraging testing, Hinds said the free testing is only for those who may have been exposed, not the entire campus.

"People absolutely don't have to get tested. We were offering the free testing to those that were in class," Hinds said. "I should be clear -- it's not an open invitation to anyone in the area who wants to be tested for TB."

NWACC requires international students to be vaccinated against TB, not every student, Hinds said.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another when the infected individual coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. Symptoms include a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, coughing up blood or sputum, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever and sweating at night.

Some people may have TB bacteria in their body without getting sick. Those with latent TB don't feel sick, don't have symptoms and cannot spread the bacteria to others. However, if TB bacteria become active and multiply, a person with latent TB could become sick with active TB.