A Riverside County resident with ties to California Baptist University in Riverside has tested positive for active tuberculosis, Riverside University Health System-Public Health reported Friday.

The university said it could not release any details about whether the infected person was an employee or a student, but said in a statement that its priority was the “well-being of its students, faculty and staff.”

The university further said that it was working with public health officials and was “following all guidance provided by the county.”

According to a news release, an estimated 150 people might have had close contact with the individual during the potential exposure period between Sept. 5 and Oct. 16. Public health and the university said they were working to identify and notify those individuals so they could get tested.

Tuberculosis, commonly known as TB, is caused by a bacteria that can be spread from person to person through the air, however Riverside County Director for Disease Control Barbara Cole said it takes ongoing, prolonged exposure to become infected.

“If you just pass someone in a supermarket, and they have active TB, that’s not sufficient to infect you,” she said. “Prolonged means it’s day after day, it’s ongoing.”

Cole said the department had “no evidence” of an outbreak and said there was only one case associated with this notification with no others currently showing signs of active TB.

The department said it was not known where the individual was exposed to the disease, though a contact investigation was said to be ongoing along with monitoring of others who live or have close contact with the infected person.

Cole said that the majority of people exposed to TB don’t get infected. And of those that do, only a very small percent progress to active TB, she said. 

If a person tests positive for TB, but a chest x-ray shows the infection is not active, they have what is called latent TB. Cole said people with latent TB are neither sick nor contagious, and the infection is treated with an antibiotic.

Those with active TB will have symptoms like chest pain, weakness, weight loss and fever. They could also develop a cough, putting their germs in the air and potentially infecting others. Cole said the treatment of active TB includes a minimum of four antibiotics that the person must take for anywhere from six to nine months.

“Not only is TB treatable, it’s curable,” she said. “So if people take their medication as the doctor orders it, they recover, they become well, and they no longer present a risk to anyone else.”

For those with active TB, Cole said they’re typically no longer contagious after two to three weeks of medication, meaning they can return to work and school with no risk to those around them as they continue their treatment.

In an average year, Cole said there are between 55 and 60 cases of TB reported in Riverside County. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 8,300 TB cases reported throughout the U.S. last year.

More information about TB symptoms, testing and treatment can be found here on the CDC’s website.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.