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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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    Officials Investigate Suspected Tuberculosis Case at SBU

    A few months after a member of the SBU community was diagnosedwith meningitis, another member of the campus community is beingexamined for a possible case of tuberculosis. In an e-mail sent outlast week by University President Shirley Strum Kenny, students andfaculty were informed of this case, and were reassured that thereexists no imminent danger and no risk of infection at thistime.’We have a patient who is being evaluated,’ saidPatrick Calabria, director of media relations. ‘Because itwas a member of the campus community, there was a feeling that weshould tell people what we know, and at the same time, doing whatwe could to reasonably allay their fears. The president [Kenny]supported that decision. She felt very strongly that we had toinform the campus community of the appropriate things when wecan.’The Suffolk County Department of Health and Safety hasalready visited campus, Calabria said, and has begun testingindividuals who may have recently been near the potentiallyinfected patient. Gary Kaczmarczyk, assistant director ofEnvironmental Health and Safety and emergency managementco-coordinator, assured the thoroughness of the measures beingtaken on campus.’The Suffolk County Department of Health andSafety has been on campus, has met with individuals from the areasthat may have had the closest contact with the individual who mayhave tuberculosis.’ Kaczmarczyk said. ‘They have touredthe site, and they assure us that there is no health risk toanyone.’Both Kaczmarczyk and Calabria stressed that this isnot yet a confirmed case of tuberculosis, and that thepatient’s condition has not yet proceeded to tuberculosis,though the person is currently being evaluated. Despite that, theidentity of the patient remains withheld, for privacy and legalreasons.’Because of privacy issues, and in some cases federallaw, we’re not identifying the patient, but we did want to beforthcoming with the campus community and answer any concerns thatthey may have,’ Calabria said.There were only a few responsesfrom SBU students to the mass e-mail sent to the community, with’reasonable’ concerns, Calabria said.In the messagesent to the campus community, university officials said thattuberculosis is ‘a disease that is not easily transmitted andis completely treatable.’ According to the Centers forDisease Control, tuberculosis is spread from one person to anotherthrough the air, and the bacteria can settle in the lungs orthroat, where it can become infectious. Tuberculosis that settlesin another part of the body is usually not infectious, and isconsidered latent. People most at risk are individuals who areexposed to the infected person on a daily basis.Students who wereinterviewed felt that they did not know enough about the disease,and many had not heard about the possible occurrence, despite theblanket e-mail that had been sent out to the entire campuscommunity.’I did not hear about it on this campus, but myfriend from Ithaca said that there was an outbreak at hisschool.’ said Kelly Murray, a junior majoring inwomen’s studies. ‘I don’t know too much abouttuberculosis to be concerned.’ ‘I didn’t hearabout it. I’m a bit concerned, but not to the extent where Iwould be preoccupied with it,’ said Vanessa Lieu, a juniorand applied math and business major. Students are being encouragedby the university to visit the website of the Centers for DiseaseControl at www.cdc.gov to obtain more information abouttuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

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