WATERLOO — Wilfrid Laurier University has notified 200 former kinesiology students that there is an “extremely low risk’’ they may have contracted a blood-borne disease.
In a press release issued Tuesday, the university said students who took part in blood-lactate-level testing in a third-year kinesiology and physical education course may be at risk of contracting Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.
The affected students took the course called Physiology of Physical Activity KP322 between September 2002 and December 2011.
About 1,200 students took the class, but only 200 volunteered to have their blood-lactate levels tested for instructional purposes, said Deborah MacLatchy, vice-president academic.
The blood sampler used by the university held a needle that was removed and discarded after each use. The blood sampler device was also cleaned with alcohol after each individual test. A new needle was used for each test.
However, the university has learned that the sampler device was not meant to be used by multiple individuals, the press release said.
Doing so increased the risk that a student taking the test transmitted a blood-borne disease to another student.
The problem was discovered after a WLU professor read media reports of similar situations at the University of Prince Edward Island and in Manitoba, and followed up at Laurier, MacLatchy said.
The blood sampler is no longer being used in the KP322 lab.
“The university is reviewing the circumstances that led to this situation and the university’s policies and guidelines associated with such testing,’’ the press release said.
The affected students were in a physiology lab learning about how blood-lactate levels change under various levels of activity. They volunteered to have their blood-lactate levels tested through a finger prick.
The university’s health services department, in consultation with Region of Waterloo public health, says the risk of transmission is very low.
For Hepatitis C, it’s one in one million. For Hepatitis B, it’s six in one million. And for HIV, the risk is one in 10 million.
The risk is 10-fold greater for those who weren’t immunized against Hepatitis B.
The university is notifying all 1,200 students who took the class by email, regular mail, social media, through postings on their website and through alumni networks.
Students will get a letter they can take to their doctor to be tested.
“The university recognizes that despite the extremely low risk, this situation is concerning to those involved,’’ MacLatchy said in the press release.
“We are taking the situation very seriously and have chosen to take proactive measures to provide information to those involved.’’
The university has notified Public Health Ontario.