KP 322 students face potential health risk

(File photo by Yusuf Kidwai)

On August 14, Wilfrid Laurier University announced that kinesiology students who had taken KP322 (Physiology of Physical Activity) between 2002 and 2011 were at risk of transmitting Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV as a result of taking blood lactate tests with a faulty blood sampler.

Peter Tiidus, a kinesiology professor at Laurier, realized that the blood sampler being used was not a multiple-use device as previously thought, but only good for single usage.

However, he declined to make any comments about the issue to The Cord.

Stephen Perry, chair of the kinesiology department, also declined an interview.

Since the potential health risk was detected, Laurier has made every possible attempt to contact all at-risk students and alert them of the situation. Despite the health risk being “extremely low” — according to the press release sent out by Laurier —concerns are still very high.
“[We’re] very concerned, first and foremost, about the students being contacted, and that they be advised of what their next steps should be,” stated Deb MacLatchy, Laurier provost and vice-president: academic. “[There is] also concern that [with] the move forward we are using the appropriate techniques in the labs so students can maximize their learning in laboratories that have limited or no risk to them.”

MacLatchy also commented on how the faculty of science is looking to improve its various programs and hopefully make them safer for students to participate in.

“What we’re doing for this fall, not just in kinensiology, but in all the labs at the university that have used human blood in the past, we’re not going to use any [human blood],” she explained. “We’re going to use alternative methods for the labs, and then we’ve got a committee in place right now looking into best practices in the field, and to look at what we might bring forward as approved procedures in the future years.”

During the upcoming fall semester, the newly formed committee will meet to discuss and research alternative ways for students to complete their labs without the use of human blood.

The hope is to have newly approved procedures in place for when the class is offered again this upcoming winter term.

For now, Laurier is urging all at-risk students to consult their physicians for tests to ensure they aren’t facing any health risks.

“If students do come forward down the road with test results the university will deal with that at that point,” concluded MacLatchy. “Right now, we’re just focused on getting the information out to the students.”

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