Tuberculosis case identified at Iowa State; public health officials are investigating

Ames, Iowa – Physicians at Iowa State University’s Thielen Student Health Center have diagnosed a student with tuberculosis disease through a routine screening required of all incoming international students.

The student lives on campus, is being treated with antibiotics, and will remain isolated from the university community until public health officials clear the individual to return to class based on laboratory results.

Homeward/Story County Public Health and the Iowa Department of Public Health’s TB Control Program are investigating the confirmed case. The university is assisting public health officials as needed.

Persons who have had significant exposure to the affected student (via close, prolonged contact) will be contacted by Homeward/Story County Public Health to be screened for possible infection. Most ISU students and employees will not need to be evaluated, and those who are not contacted by public health officials do not need to be evaluated, said Allan Lynch, TB Control program manager for the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Tuberculosis is not easily transmitted in schools or the workplace, Lynch added. On those rare occasions when it is transmitted, persons are diagnosed as having TB infection – called latent TB infection. Persons with latent infection are neither sick nor infectious to others. Only persons with TB disease can transmit TB infection to others. Both the latent infection and TB disease are treatable and curable with antibiotics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TB is spread through the air from one person to another. A person can only get infected by breathing in TB germs that a nearby person coughs, sneezes or transmits into the air. TB is not spread by shaking hands, sharing glasses, utensils or toothbrushes; or touching surfaces, bed linens or toilet seats where a TB patient has been.

For more information about tuberculosis, and the difference between latent TB infection and TB disease, go to:

Iowa State students who are not contacted by public health officials, but have questions or concerns about their well-being, may contact the Thielen Student Health Center resource nurse at 515-294-5890 or their own family physicians.