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NWCC responds to Tuberculosis case

Northwest Mississippi Community College is cooperating with the Mississippi Department of Health following a possible tuberculosis exposure at the college’s Oxford campus.

The college released a statement on Friday, July 20, saying the administration is committed to doing everything they can to “ensure the health and safety” of students.

“This week, the college was informed that a limited number of students, less than 50, may have had contact in the late spring with an individual who later tested positive for active TB,” the statement said. “The Health Department began reaching out last week to all individuals  who may have been exposed to the individual to arrange for testing.”

According to Liz Sharlot, communications director at MSDH, all people who may have been exposed by the second case have been contacted and have either tested or set up a time to do so.

“People don’t need to freak out. Whoever has been exposed to the two confirmed cases has been contacted,” Sharlot said last week. “The only way to contract TB is through prolonged, daily exposure.”

TB is spread from person to person through the air, when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected after prolonged exposure. TB is most commonly spread to others in confined, poorly ventilated spaces, according to the MSDH website.

TB cannot be spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes or kissing.

TB disease can be treated by taking anti-tuberculosis drugs for six to 12 months or longer. A person with TB infection also needs to take anti-tuberculosis drugs in order to kill the TB germs and prevent TB disease from developing in the future.

The newest and best treatment for TB infection, according to MSDH, requires two drugs given in one directly observed dose per week for 12 weeks. Other single drug treatment options take from four to nine months to complete.

For more information, visit http://www.msdh.state.ms.us.