The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Tuberculosis case leads to testing, questions on SE

By Karen Gavis and Bethany Peterson

Students and faculty on SE Campus were upset that the college waited days before notifying them that a former SE student tested positive for active tuberculosis.

The former student, who lives in Dallas, has been on medication since February and is receiving follow-up treatment, said Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.

SE president William Coppola addressed the issue in a letter March 22 stating the college learned on March 19 that faculty and students could have been exposed to tuberculosis. Coppola’s letter was emailed to faculty early in the morning March 22 after several news stations ran stories on the situation the evening of March 21. The same email was sent to students March 22.

Fort Worth Public Health spokeswoman Vanessa Joseph said the tuberculosis elimination division wants to test the roughly 200 students and faculty considered to be at high-risk for the disease because they had class with the infected student last fall or this spring.

Tests will be available for students and faculty April 3, and the necessary follow-ups will be April 5. Arrangements will be made for those not available on those dates. Those considered to be at high risk have already been notified.

Free tests will not be available for those who are not considered high-risk. Those who want a test are encouraged to request one from their health care provider, Joseph said.

Although Coppola’s letter assured SE faculty, students and staff that their health and safety were paramount, some students remained unaware, and others were shocked, unalarmed or irritated.

SE student Star Vidaurri had not received the news. Vidaurri said she was nearly speechless and wanted to know more about how the disease is spread.

SE health services coordinator Liz Lowry said tuberculosis is not spread by casual contact but mainly by close and prolonged contact.

“Plus, it has to be active [tuberculosis],” she said.

Monica Flinn, a SE biology student, said her class is currently studying tuberculosis and the spread of contagious diseases. She had not heard of the situation either.

“I feel like on health issues, on a case like that, we should be notified because that is a spreadable disease,” she said.

A SE faculty member, who did not want a name used, expressed irritation that faculty were not informed until March 22 about the case that had been known by the college three days earlier.

“There are only two buildings,” the faculty member said.

Others were also irritated they had not been informed more quickly.

“I think they should shut the school down,” said Anastasia Smith, who was informed by a Fox 4 News reporter March 21.

SE student Raven Horton said she became aware through Facebook. She told of a fellow student who learned of the situation before his dean did.

“I think the health department should be here sooner,” Horton said.

SE student Velton Flowers initially found out on Twitter. Flowers said he was not concerned because he did not know anything about tuberculosis.

However, Flowers’ friend Darrius Veazia had a different story. Veazia learned the news from friends after he had been coughing.

“I was a little bit concerned,” he said. “I was, like, I don’t want to die.”

Veazia said a cousin assured him he would be OK and didn’t have the disease because, if he did, his symptoms would be much worse.

Student development services vice president Rusty Fox said the current situation happens at large institutions frequently.

“If you are not contacted by Tarrant County Public Health, that’s indication from them that you are not at risk,” he said.

Fox acknowledged that some concerned students might be tempted to miss class.
“Anyone who feels like they have concerns should see their physician,” he said.

“Based on their feedback, work with your instructor.”

SE student Leo Calvillo had not checked his CampusCruiser March 22 and knew nothing of the situation, but he said he was not concerned.

“It doesn’t bother me at all,” he said. “You know, it happens.”

Calvillo said he’s pretty sure other people on campus have different types of illnesses, and the tuberculosis patient was not the only ill person on campus.

“Maybe one day, it will be one of us,” he said. “But right now, just hoping for him to get better.”

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian