Case of tuberculosis (TB) on campus

- University of Victoria

A member of the campus community has been diagnosed with active tuberculosis (TB), a slow-growing bacterium that can affect the lungs. While the risk of transmission is low, UVic is working closely with Island Health on protocols to identify, screen and treat those who may have been exposed.

We want to assure students, faculty, staff, parents and guardians that the university and Island Health are taking active steps to respond to this situation and support the university community.

The affected community member has been self-isolating since their diagnosis and those who may have been in close contact with the individual have received an email notification outlining key information, screening requirements and supports and resources should they have further questions or concerns.

At this time, Island Health has identified all those needing to be screened. If you did not receive an email, you do not need to be screened.

In order to protect the privacy of the individual and anyone else who may have been exposed, no information specific to this incident will be released by Island Health or the university.

We understand that this news may cause concern, not only to those directly involved, but to the broader community. Please be assured that UVic is working closely with and following the advice of Island Health to respond to the situation and ensure all steps are being taken to protect the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.

Learn more about tuberculosis (TB).

Frequently Asked Questions


General Medical Questions

This information is also available via Health Link BC.

What is tuberculosis (TB)?

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by slow-growing bacteria that grow best in areas of the body that have lots of blood and oxygen. It usually affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body like glands, bones, joints, kidneys, the brain and reproductive organs. Read more

What are the symptoms of TB?

Symptoms of active TB disease of the lungs include a cough (dry or wet) for two weeks or longer, sputum, chest pain and shortness of breath. You may also have unexplained weight loss, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite and tiredness or fatigue. If TB has affected other parts of your body, the symptoms may vary. If you have symptoms, please contact visit a healthcare provider (family doctor, walk-in clinic, etc.).

How can you catch TB?

If you have latent TB, you do not have symptoms and cannot spread the disease to others. If you have active TB, you do have symptoms and can spread the disease to others.

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium that spreads through the air when someone who is sick with TB in the lungs coughs, sneezes, sings or talks. If you breathe in the air with the TB bacteria, you can become infected. Usually, you need a significant amount of close, regular contact with a person who is sick to develop TB infection, so most people exposed do not become infected. As a result, there is a very low risk of infection.

Most people who are infected do not develop the illness, known as active TB. While active TB can be a serious illness, there are effective treatments that both prevent and treat illness.

What is the difference between latent and active TB?

Latent TB means that you have the TB bacteria in your body, but your body's defences (immune system) are keeping it from turning into active TB. This means that you don't have any symptoms of TB right now and can't spread the disease to others. If you have latent TB, it can become active TB.

Active TB means that the TB bacteria are growing and causing symptoms. If your lungs are infected with active TB, it is easier to spread the disease to others.

How is TB diagnosed?

A TB skin test (TST) is a two-part screening process. At the first appointment, a healthcare provider uses a tiny needle to inject a small amount of a substance called Tubersol under the top layer of skin on the forearm. The patient must then return for a second appointment 48 to 72 hours later to have a healthcare provider read the result. The healthcare provider will check the area where the skin test was given for a reaction by measuring the induration (swelling under the skin). People with TB infections usually respond with a raised, firm reaction at the site of the injection. Those who have a positive screen may then proceed with further diagnostic testing, as per recommendations from the Island Health TB clinic.

How is TB treated?

Doctors treat TB with antibiotics to kill the TB bacteria. These medicines are given to everyone who has TB, including infants, children, pregnant women and people who have a weakened immune system. Read more.

Where can people get screened?

Island Health has completed contact tracing for the single case of TB on campus. Anyone who needs to be screened received a notification letter by email with instructions on where and how screening will happen. If you have not received a notification, you don’t need to be screened.

UVic Community Questions


My friend/family member received a notification letter. Am I at risk?

No. Only those who received a notification letter by email were exposed and should be tested. It is not possible to transmit tuberculosis unless you are actively ill with TB disease and have symptoms. Most people who are exposed will not get infected, and the small number who may be infected cannot transmit until they develop TB disease with symptoms. This is why it is important for those who may be infected to be screened and treated before developing any symptoms.

What are the rules around returning to campus if you test positive?

If someone tests positive, the Island Health TB program will arrange for further follow-up tests – and it is important that the individual complete these tests. Usually, they will be referred to have some blood tests and/or X-rays. However, they are still able to travel, continue to attend classes and do other activities while awaiting these tests and results. They do not need to change their daily activities just because their test is positive. A positive test is not indicative of infectious TB disease. 

If someone is acutely unwell, they should manage this as they would any other illness – this includes seeking health care if needed, and staying home if they have respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and diarrhea.

If exposures happened in the classroom, how can you be sure that other classes aren’t also at risk (i.e., those taking place immediately before or after)?

Usually, you need a significant amount of close, regular contact with a person who is sick with TB in the lungs to develop TB infection. Being in the same room or in close proximity to a person with TB disease for a short period of time is highly unlikely to result in infection with TB. The contact-tracing process conducted by the Island Health TB program has identified those at risk and needing testing.

What is UVic doing to avoid further exposures?

UVic is committed to providing safe and healthy environments for all members of the university community. We have a communicable disease prevention plan with ongoing prevention measures in place, and we follow public health direction to implement additional measures in response to infections like tuberculosis. More information is available at:

Here are some additional supports and resources should you have more questions.

Medical resources: Tuberculosis (TB) | HealthLink BC

If you have a primary healthcare provider (physician or nurse practitioner), you may speak directly with them.

International student insurance coverage: International Centre for Students (ICS) or visit ICS at Jamie Cassels Centre, Room B202d, +1-250-721-6361,

For further medical questions, contact Student Wellness, 250-721-8563.

What happens if students need to make a medical appointment?

Students should make medical appointments or any other appointment as necessary. If you have active symptoms of illness like a cough, please wear a medical mask in the healthcare facility and follow other instructions from your healthcare provider. If relevant to your appointment, you should tell your healthcare provider about this TB exposure and testing results if available.

What is UVic doing to support those who may have been exposed?

Although there is a low risk of infection, we are taking precautions and working closely with Island Health to best support members of the campus community who may have been exposed to an active case of TB on campus. Those who have been identified via contact tracing have received a notification letter, by email, with detailed information, screening instructions and a list of supports and resources they can access. These letters outline screening protocols and timelines, and Island Health is organizing screening clinics on campus to make it easier for those affected to be screened.

Student Wellness is working closely with Island Health to support students who may have been exposed. More information, supports and resources are available at: Health Link BC.

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