Health officials seek those possibly affected by tuberculosis in Mankato

Published 9:56 am Saturday, January 26, 2019

By Nina Moini

MPR News/90.1 FM

State officials are looking for dozens more people who could be impacted by a tuberculosis outbreak on the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus.

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The Minnesota Department of Health reported this week that there have been eight active cases of TB linked to the same area around the campus since August 2016.

The disease attacks the lungs and is transferred through prolonged exposure to an infected person.

Kris Ehresmann, who serves as director of MDH’s Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Division, said people who just visit campus occassionally should not be worried.

Ehresmann said the state has tested nearly 700 people who may have spent a lot of time around someone with TB near campus.

“Tuberculosis is a very common disease, globally.” Ehresmann said. “We just don”t see as much of it in the United States. There is a vaccine for TB that is used for infants in countries where it is very common.”

Ehresmann said there are usually around 150 people who develop TB in the Minnesota every year.

That is why the state health department is informing doctors across the state to be on the lookout for people who display symptoms similar to TB.

“If you have an otherwise healthy 20-something who comes in with a persistent cough, providers – unless they”ve been alerted to the situation – would not neccesarily think of tuberculosis.”

Ehresmann said state officials are still working to track down dozens more people to see if they”ve been affected.