Friday, October 7, 2016

Recommendation to Screen Adults for Latent Tuberculosis Infection

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force,  and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as public health departments across the country are recommending the screening of adults who are at increased risk for latent tuberculosis infection.  Persons with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB infection to others, however, without treatment, about 5 to 10% of infected persons will develop TB disease at some time in their lives.

“There are an estimated 158,000 people living with TB infection in Colorado, and most are unaware of their condition,” said Dr.Daniel Shodell, deputy director of the Disease Control and Environmental Epidemiology Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “At the heart of Colorado's TB elimination plan is the necessity to screen and test people at higher risk for TB and ensure those found to be infected complete an appropriate drug regimen for TB infection.”

Without routine testing, TB is often forgotten by physicians.  Testing for TB by primary care providers will help ensure that people who are infected have the opportunity to take medicine that will prevent them from getting sick.  Preventing the cycle of transmission to others will help Colorado move closer to eliminating TB in the state.

Anyone can get TB. However, some people have a higher risk of getting infected. People at higher risk include:

  • Individuals who have traveled to or lived in countries where TB is common. This includes most countries other than the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Western and Northern European countries.
  • Individuals who are immuno-compromised, including those with HIV.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends testing for TB infection for other high-risk groups, including:

  • Health care workers and others who work in hospitals, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes or residential homes, as well as current or past residents of these facilities.
  • Someone who has been in close contact with a person who has infectious TB disease.
  • Children, especially those under age 5, if they are in one of the risk groups noted above.
  • Please visit the state health department’s TB Program web pages for more information.

Jefferson County Public Health offers screening for Tuberculosis infection at its regular immunization clinics. Please call 303-239-7078 for an appointment.

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