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Student in Finland diagnosed with contagious tuberculosis

A student in eastern Finland has been diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. Fifty people the student had been in contact with have been called in for checkups.

Saimaan ammattikorkeakoulu Saimia
Saimaa University of Applied Sciences in eastern Finland's region of South Karelia. Image: Mikko Savolainen / Yle

A roughly 30-year-old student who attends Saimaa University of Applied Sciences in eastern Finland's region of South Karelia has been diagnosed with contagious pulmonary tuberculosis, also known as TB.

The institution has facilities in the cities of Imatra and Lappeenranta and health officials have mapped out everyone who may have been in contact with the student from the beginning of September through 11 December of last year.

Those individuals have been asked to undergo medical checkups, to determine whether or not they have been infected.

The roughly 50 people include students as well as staff at the school. Other students and personnel at the institution have also been informed about the situation.

Contagious form of TB rare in Finland

Tuberculosis is a contagious disease and spreads when individuals with active TB in their lungs cough, spit, speak or sneeze.

TB is not common in Finland. The country began vaccinating children against the illness in 2006.

Some 200 new cases of TB are detected in Finland every year, but less than one-third of them are the contagious form of the disease.

Mycobacterium, which causes tuberculosis usually attack the lungs, but can also damage other parts of the body, but these days is relatively easy to treat.

The disease's main symptom is a persistent cough which can last more than three weeks. Other symptoms include tiredness, sweating, loss of appetite and body weight, bloody phlegm, shortness of breath and fever.

Less than a century ago TB was a serious, life-threatening disease. As recently as the 1930s some 10,000 people died of tuberculosis every year.

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