A Missouri state senator wants to require more people to be screened for tuberculosis.
The proposal comes from Senator David Sater, a pharmacist from Cassville, Missouri. The senator's proposal deals with both screening and treatment of TB and sections out what the senator believes is a key cause of TB cases in this country.
Senator Sater wants all colleges and universities in the state to test certain incoming students and faculty for TB.
"It's been shown that 62% of the tuberculosis cases each year are from foreign students," says Senator Sater. "So we'll just do a questionnaire to see where they've been, what country they're from, and if that country is endemic with tuberculosis."
Missouri Southern State University in Joplin already requires its incoming foreign students to be tested for TB. U.S. law also requires immigrants in general to be tested for this infection.
Doctors say an active TB infection is very contagious, spread most of the time when people cough or sneeze.
Dr. Anthony Zeimet of the Freeman Medical Group says active TB cases in this area are rare. Some people may be infected but not even know it because they don't have symptoms like coughing, fever, chills, and night sweats. This type of infection is called latent TB and is not infectious to other people.
"Your immune system is keeping it in control," says Dr. Zeimet.
But latent TB usually still turns into active TB later in life.
Some students at Missouri Southern tell us they're not caught up with the specifics of this infection, the number of people that've been affected, or even the politics around this health concern.