A woman was admitted to the National Institute of Health in Maryland, on Friday after being diagnosed with a severe, aggressive and drug-resistant form of tuberculosis. Meanwhile, health officials are investigating people she may have been in contact with, to see if they are also infected
The NIH stated "The patient is staying in an isolation room in the NIH Clinical Center specifically designed for handling patients with respiratory infections,"
In a statement the NIH said "NIH is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of all concerned, and the situation is of minimal risk to other Clinical Center patients, NIH staff, and the public,"
Bruce Hirsch, an infectious disease physician at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y, stated that "monitoring potentially exposed patients is "essential" to keeping Americans safe."
He also added that "The treatment of this resistant strain of tuberculosis is challenging and prolonged,"
According to the New York Times, "The woman flew from India to Chicago in April. She then traveled to Missouri and Tennessee before returning to Chicago, where she went to the ER for treatment and was later admitted. This was seven weeks after she arrived on U.S soil. Her prognosis is not yet known, but her condition is serious. Doctors are very concerned because this particular strain of TB is extremely dangerous and difficult to treat. According to William Schaffner, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist, Vanderbilt " It can create holes in the lungs, (so called cavities) where the TB bacteria can flourish and slowly reduce your capacity of the lung to function," The woman is expected to require months of treatment if she is to survive.
The co-chief of infectious disease, Debra Spicehandler of Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York told USA TODAY that "If she was coughing then people on the plane are certainly at risk for catching this. Not a high risk but there's always a risk of transmission."
About 1 million people die from TB every year worldwide. In 1985 with the newly discovered disease AIDS and HIV arriving on the scene, TB was on the rise because patients with HIV have weak immune systems which leaves them more susceptible to contracting diseases. But in 1993 new cases of TB began to decline as AIDS and HIV became more treatable and less prevalent.
In the medical field, there are droplet precautions and airborne precautions. Diseases that are spread by droplet precautions are harder to contract because they are large droplets, thus they have a heavy molecular weight, so they subsequently drop to the floor much quicker than airborne droplets.
TB is considered airborne precautions. The molecules are so tiny that they remain in the air longer. Allowing more time for the disease to be transmitted from one person to the next. A regular medical mask is not effective in protecting against TB. A person must be fit tested for a TB mask. The person who fits the masks must make sure it is tight, and no air can travel through the edges of the mask. Only then is it effective for the protection of TB.
If you are a medical professional and you have not been tested for a TB mask, you should contact your employer and ask to be fitted. Medical professionals should also be asking patients about any recent trips out of the United States.
According to the CDC People who work in healthcare facilities or patients of these facilities are at higher risk of contracting TB. There should be a program in place in every health care establishment to control the incidence and spread of the disease.
As a health care provider you should be adequately trained for the immediate detection of infectious patients, airborne precautions and treatment measure for infected patients.
There are three goals that should be met according to the CDC to deal with the spread of TB. There should be constant evaluation of the TB policies and procedures, which should also be regularly reviewed to ensure the effectiveness.
Administrative measures, environmental controls and the use of respiratory protective equipment must be utilized to achieve these goals.
Please share this post so others can be informed of the importance of getting fit tested and wearing the proper isolation equipment to protect against the spread of this potent and aggressive form of TB.
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