Local and Community News
Program Tracks Those at Risk for Tuberculosis in Tennessee
April 11, 2002
Despite record low numbers of cases of tuberculosis in Tennessee, local health officials are organizing a program to screen those considered at high risk for the disease. This "targeted testing initiative" emphasizes education and testing of high risk individuals -- those who are foreign-born, homeless individuals, those living in group homes, those incarcerated and those who travel internationally on a regular basis, according to Angela Pierce, communicable diseases clinic manager for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department.Adapted from:
"We're trying to screen these people as they come in for other services," Pierce said. "We are also organizing programs to go out to businesses that traditionally employ foreign-born people." In Chattanooga's targeted testing initiative, skin tests are performed to see if a person is carrying the bacteria. A small portion of bacteria protein is injected under the skin. If the immune system reacts to the bacteria within 72 hours, it indicates the person has been infected.
According to Diane Denton, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Health, last year, 50 percent of US TB cases, including 14 percent of Tennessee cases, occurred among foreign- born individuals. Nationally, at least 7 million foreign-born individuals are infected with TB, according to the CDC. "We're finding a lot of people are testing positive, but don't have the disease," Pierce said of the Chattanooga testing program. Two or 3 percent of those infected will develop the disease unless they complete medication to stop its progress, she said. If caught in the early stages, TB can be treated with standard medication, she added.
Chattanooga Times/Free Press
04.07.02; Kevin Lusk
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.