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4/21/2016 - Jackson, Miss.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning approved the first reading of an amendment to its policy on screening for tuberculosis at its meeting held today on the campus of Delta State University in Cleveland. The amended policy requires proof of test screening for tuberculosis by chest x-ray and interferon gamma release assays (IGRA) performed in the United States of America within six weeks prior to admission for all international students.

The changes to Board Policy 605.C were recommended by a committee of experts, including Dr. Thomas Dobbs, State Epidemiologist, Mississippi State Department of Health, and Dr. Ralph Didlake, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Mississippi Medical Center.

"The current policy, which requires screening by chest x-ray, no longer reflects best practices for student populations," said Dr. Susan Lee, Associate Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning. "While there is certainly no indication of a rise in tuberculosis diagnoses among our students, we want to be proactive in changing the policy to prevent any rise in the disease."

The IGRA test requires one trip to a clinic to have one vial of blood drawn and results are generally available in approximately 48 hours. The screenings are available at all Mississippi health departments, located in each county in the state, the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, LabCorp, with various locations across the state, and Baptist Health Center in Jackson. The University of Mississippi Medical Center can offer this service from both the UMMC Pavilion and the Jackson Medical Mall.

Approximately 64 percent of new cases in the United States are foreign-born students, with 22 countries representing 80 percent of the tuberculosis cases in the world. Mississippi Public Universities admit more than 2500 international students each year, with approximately half of them coming from the 22 countries considered high risk for the disease.

The amended policy will be brought back to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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