Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious infectious disease, primarily affecting the lungs and other parts of the body. It is caused by airborne bacteria transmissible from person to person. TB can be prevented and treated, but it requires early diagnosis and adherence to a long course of medication.
Why Employee Screening for TB is Essential
Certain professions predispose employees to a higher occupational exposure risk to Tuberculosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend TB screening for any health care workers or volunteers in health care settings, such as:
Inpatient care facilities
Outpatient care settings
Emergency medical services
Medical settings in correctional facilities
Home-based health care and outreach settings
Assisted living, adult care centers, nursing homes and long-term care facilities
Clinics within homeless shelters
These workers should be screened for TB upon hire with a baseline testing, individual TB risk assessment, a TB symptom evaluation, and blood tests. The results of the tuberculosis screening should be interpreted based on the worker's risk factors and history of previous TB infection or disease.
The Frequency of TB Testing for Healthcare Professionals
Annual testing of healthcare workers is not recommended however, unless there is a known exposure or ongoing transmission of TB in the workplace. Instead, staff should receive an annual screening of TB symptoms and be educated about the signs and symptoms of TB to encourage early prevention and/or treatment.
Addressing Positive TB Test Results in Employees
Employees who test positive for Tuberculosis should receive a chest x-ray and further evaluation to rule out TB disease. They should also be offered treatment for Latent Tuberculosis Infection. LTBI means they have TB bacteria in their body, but do not have symptoms or signs of disease. Treatment for LTBI can prevent the development of TB disease and reduce the risk of transmission to others.
State-Specific TB Testing Regulations
Some states mandate screening requirements and TB tests for personnel interacting with vulnerable demographics, such as children, elderly people, or immunocompromised individuals. For instance:
In California: Workers employed in any facility licensed by the Department of Social Services must undergo a TB test within seven days of employment and every two years thereafter.
In New York: Employees in schools, daycare centers, or residential facilities for children must undergo screening for tuberculosis and testing within three months of employment and every four years thereafter.
Implementing TB Screening and Testing in Your Workplace Health Program
If you are considering adding TB testing to your employee health screening program, Vault Workforce Screening can provide best practices and guidelines tailored to your specific settings and workforce population. It is important to educate your employees about the benefits and limitations of TB testing, the importance of completing treatment for LTBI if indicated, and the need to report any symptoms or exposures to TB promptly. Additionally, you should be sure you have adequate infection control measures in place to prevent the spread of TB among employees and patients/clients.
Comprehending the Global Impact and Severity of Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis is a global health problem afflicting millions of people annually. The World Health Organization (WHO), cites TB as the 13th leading cause of death and the second leading infectious killer after COVID-19 (above HIV and AIDS). In 2021, an estimated 10.6 million people fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) worldwide - six million men, 3.4 million women and 1.2 million children. Approximately 1.6 million people died from TB in 2021 (including 187 000 people with HIV). In the United States, 8,300 TB cases were reported in 2022 (a rate of 2.5 cases per 100,000 persons). A staggering 13 million people in the United States are estimated to harbor active tuberculosis infection.
The Global Endeavor to Eliminate Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis can be eliminated with effective prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care. Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is a key health target for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Achieving this goal, US$ 13 billion is needed annually for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care.
Vault Workforce Screening: Experts in Occupational Health Screening
We offer a complementary 30-minute screening program review with our team. Schedule today and we'll step through every aspect of your existing program and where you may be able to improve, mandated state compliance requirements, as well as how you can successfully add TB testing to your existing program. There is no obligation or risk involved, and you'll receive a free report you can review with team members following the consultation.
The information and opinions expressed are for educational purposes only and are based on current practice, industry related knowledge and business expertise. The information provided shall not be construed as legal advice, express or implied. Consult with legal counsel before any action is taken or not taken in relation to information disseminated in this resource.
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