The goal of the Tuberculosis Program is to reduce the incidence of active Tuberculosis in the community.
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious, reportable disease that usually affects the lungs. TB is caused by germs that are spread through the air from person to person when a person with active TB disease coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. These germs can stay in the air for several hours, depending on the environment. Persons who breathe in the air containing these TB germs can become infected (latent TB infection).
The York City Bureau of Health has an aggressive Tuberculosis program. Community Health Nurses provide TB skin testing in the clinic as well as in community settings serving high risk populations. After identifying a positive TB skin or blood test, the Community Health Nurse conducts an initial interview with the individual. The individual is then treated for 4-9 months for latent TB infection or 6 months for active TB disease. In addition to an initial doctor visit, monthly office visits allow for on-going evaluation. Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) is used for all active TB disease patients and on occasion for non-compliant latent-TB patients. Contacts of active TB disease cases are tested to determine TB status and some are started on prophylactic treatment for three months.
What Is Latent TB Infection & Active TB Disease?
People with latent TB infection have TB germs in their bodies, but they are not sick and do not have symptoms of active TB disease because the germs are not active. These people cannot spread the germs to others. They may develop active TB disease in the future and are often prescribed treatment to prevent them from developing active TB disease.
People with active TB disease are sick from the TB germs that are active, meaning that they are multiplying and destroying tissue in their body. They usually have symptoms of TB disease. People with TB disease of the lungs or throat are capable of spreading germs to others. They are prescribed medications to cure the active TB disease.
The treatment of both latent TB infection and active TB disease ranges from 4-9 months, depending on the individual’s age and status of infection. Compliance tends to be a major problem.
Symptoms of TB
- feelings of sickness or weakness
- weight loss
- night sweats
- chest pain
- coughing up of blood
Symptoms of active TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.
For more information on TB, visit the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov/tb/pubs/tbfactsheets/tb.htm