TB: Know about Tuberculosis

TB - Since the early 1900s, immigrants and refugees applying for a visa to come to the United States undergo a medical examination that includes TB screening.

Early in 1996 OSHA issued Tuberculosis Directives that enforce the 1994 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tuberculosis Prevention Guidelines, and allow for the wearing of new classes of NIOSH approved respirators/masks as well as HEPA masks.

tuberculosis-institution-tileFirstAidMart's training products on "Guarding Against Tuberculosis" include the changes in respiratory protection requirements. These products are designed to assist facilities and operations whose employees have a risk of exposure to tuberculosis. They also help employees understand the nature of the disease, as well as what they can do to protect themselves from infection. Topics covered in these products include:

  • Epidemiology and symptoms of tuberculosis.
  • Modes by which tuberculosis is transmitted.
  • The CDC Guidelines.
  • The Exposure Control Plan.
  • Recognition of exposure situations.
  • Practices to prevent exposure.
  • Administrative and engineering controls.
  • Selection and use of personal protective equipment (including respirators).
  • and more.

In 2007, CDC began implementing the screening guidelines, which require people suspected of having TB to receive a much more sensitive sputum culture test to confirm TB to ensure that people who do have TB receive treatment before they arrive in the United States. These requirements have now been completely implemented in all countries with U.S.-bound immigrants and refugees.

From 2007 through 2012, half of the 3.2 million arrivals of immigrants and refugees to the United States were screened for TB using the 2007 screening guidelines. Out of more than 4,000 TB cases diagnosed using the screening guidelines during this period; nearly 2,200 were smear-negative and culture-positive. These cases would likely have been missed under the previous screening requirements. The results of this study showed that the updated overseas screening guidelines led to a roughly one-third decrease in the number of TB cases among foreign-born persons within their first year in the United States.

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