LA
03/11/2013 06:39 pm ET | Updated Mar 11, 2013

Tuberculosis Case At Cal Poly Pomona Prompts School To Send Hundreds Of Letters To Students & Staff

Cal Poly Pomona officials have notified hundreds of students and faculty about possible exposure to tuberculosis after a student fell ill with the serious infection.

University officials sent a letter Friday to 375 students and staff who may have come into contact with the student, KTLA reports in the video above.

The school is encouraging all students to get a free tuberculosis test at student health center.

Tuberculosis is an airborne disease that can be spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or laughs. If left untreated, it can be deadly.

Over a third of the world's population is infected with tuberculosis, but most do not experience symptoms. The disease has two different stages of infection. The "latent" phase, in which tuberculosis germs are present in a body but aren't activated, means that someone could test positive for the disease despite not showing any symptoms. People with a "latent" infection can't spread the disease.

The student who fell ill from tuberculosis has withdrawn from classes for treatment and "his prognosis is good at this time," the university said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

LA officials recently enlisted the help of federal authorities to attempt to contain a Skid Row outbreak of a tuberculosis strain unique to LA. While overall infection rates for the disease have gone down in recent years, LA's homeless population has experienced a spike in numbers. Since 2007, eleven people have died from tuberculosis and 80 cases have been identified.

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