KU Tuberculosis Screening Policies

These policies are compliant with regulations of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

International Students

All newly enrolled or re-enrolled international students are required to be screened for tuberculosis by Watkins Health Services upon arrival on campus and prior to enrollment.

  • A TB blood test will be done during International Student Orientation physicals unless documented results are presented for a blood test performed in the U.S. within the past 12 months. Results from outside the U.S. cannot be accepted. Tests performed by Watkins Health Services are a covered benefit under the KBOR UnitedHealthcare StudentResources insurance plan.
  • Documentation must be presented for any prior treatment for latent or active TB and a chest X-ray will be required.
  • Chest x-rays will also be required for any student with a positive or indeterminate TB blood test unless WHS is presented with documentation for a normal x-ray performed in the U.S. within the past six months.
  • All international students are required to complete the entire process for TB screening and subsequent treatment when specified by WHS providers. Failure to do so will result in dis-enrollment from the university and subsequent notification to International Support Services that you are no longer enrolled.

U.S. Students

All newly enrolled or re-enrolled U.S. students must be screened for tuberculosis during the enrollment process by answering specific screening questions (see below). To answer these questions, students MUST log into Enroll & Pay, Click on Enroll & Manage classes, to complete the TB Screening Questionnaire.

Further testing may be required depending on these initial screening results. Students will be notified if further testing is required. Failure to complete further testing will result in an enrollment hold on the student's academic record. The student cannot enroll for the following semester until they have completed the TB screening process and the hold is lifted. For questions, contact the WHS Immunization Compliance Coordinator at 785-864-9533.

TB Screening Questions for U.S. Students (as they appear in Enroll & Pay):

  1. Have you ever had a Tuberculosis/TB test with a result that was positive which indicates TB infection?
  2. Have you ever been told that you have had close contact with someone who was sick with TB?
  3. Were you born in a country NOT listed below?
  4. Have you spent at least three months in a country NOT listed below?

According to the World Health Organization, these are the countries NOT of concern for Tuberculosis:

Countries NOT of concern for Tuberculosis
AlbaniaDominicaNew Zealand
American SamoaFinlandNorway
AndorraFrancePalestine (West Bank and Gaza Strip)
Antigua and BarbudaGermanyPuerto Rico
AustraliaGreat Britain/North Ireland (UK)Saint Kitts and Nevis
AustriaGreeceSaint Lucia
British Virgin IslandsIrelandSpain
ChileItaly Switzerland
Costa Rica JamaicaTurks and Caicos Islands
Czech RepublicMaltaUS Virgin Islands
DenmarkNetherlandsWallis and Futuna Islands

Tuberculosis FAQ

The general symptoms of TB disease include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. The symptoms of TB disease of the lungs also include coughing, chest pain and the coughing up of blood. Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

People with latent TB infection have TB germs in their bodies, but they are not sick because the germs are not active. These people do not have symptoms of TB disease, and they cannot spread the germs to others. However, they may develop TB disease in the future. They are often prescribed treatment to prevent them from developing TB disease.

People with TB disease are sick from TB germs that are active, meaning that they are multiplying and destroying tissue in the body. They usually have symptoms of TB disease. People with TB disease of the lungs or throat are capable of spreading germs to others. People with TB disease are treated with a minimum of four medications for several months in order to be cured.

TB germs are spread into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. These germs can stay in the air for several hours depending on the environment. Persons who breathe in the air containing these TB germs can become infected. This is called latent TB infection.

People with TB disease are most likely to spread the germs to people they spend time with every day, such as family members, friends or coworkers. If you have been around someone who has TB disease, you should be tested here at our facility, by your hometown physician or the local health department. The TB screening process will need to be repeated a second time eight weeks after the last exposure to the person with TB disease.

Call our Nurse Helpline at 785-864-9583 or your hometown physician for an appointment. Tell them that you might have TB. You will be asked to wear a mask when you enter Watkins Memorial Health Center. This is an extremely important public health measure that will limit the spread of the illness to others.

A person with latent TB infection cannot spread germs to other people. You do not need to be tested if you have spent time with someone with latent TB infection. However, if you have spent time with someone with TB disease or someone with symptoms of TB, you should be tested.

There are two tests that can be used to help detect TB infection:

  1. A TB blood test measures how the patient’s immune system reacts to the germs that cause TB.
  2. The Mantoux TB skin test is performed by injecting a small amount of fluid (called tuberculin) into the skin in the lower part of the arm. A person given the tuberculin skin test (PPD skin test) must return within 48 to 72 hours to have a trained healthcare worker look for a reaction on the arm. The skin test does not meet the requirements of the university's tuberculosis screening policy.

Both tests are available at Watkins Health Services. To make an appointment, call our Nurse Helpline at 785-864-9583.

A positive tuberculin skin test or a positive TB blood test likely means that you have been exposed to the bacteria that causes TB. These are considered tests for TB screening or exposure. A positive test does not tell whether or not the person has progressed from latent TB infection to TB disease. A person with a positive test is required to have a chest X-ray which can also be performed at Watkins Health Services. You may be required to have other tests to see if you have latent TB or active TB disease after speaking with your healthcare provider.

Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is a vaccine for TB disease. BCG is used in many countries, but it is not available in the United States. BCG vaccination does not completely prevent people from getting TB. It may also cause a false positive tuberculin skin test. Persons who have been vaccinated with BCG vaccine should be screened for TB with a TB blood test. There is no interaction between the BCG vaccine and the TB blood test.

If you have latent TB infection but not TB disease, the doctor may recommend that you take medication to kill the TB germs and prevent you from developing active TB disease. Generally, a person with latent TB infection has a 10% chance of developing active TB disease in their lifetime. Some people are more likely than others to develop TB disease once they have TB infection. This includes people with HIV infection, people who were recently exposed to someone with TB disease and people with certain chronic medical conditions.

Latent TB infection is treated with two TB drugs (Isoniazid & Rifapentine) once weekly for 12 weeks by direct observation therapy. Completion of treatment for latent TB infection reduces a person's risk for developing active TB disease from 10% to less than 1%.

TB disease can be treated by taking several drugs for 6 to 12 months or longer. It is very important that people who have TB disease finish the medicine and take the drugs exactly as prescribed. If they stop taking the drugs too soon, they can become sick again. If they do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs. TB that is resistant to drugs is harder and more expensive to treat. Direct Observation Therapy, or DOT, is utilized by nurses who give the TB medication. This therapy decreases the possibility of taking the medication incorrectly and, therefore, reduces the possibility of producing resistant TB organisms.