Methods Used to Control the Spread of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that commonly affect the lungs, also known as pulmonary tuberculosis. It can severely damage the lungs causing disability and death. The bacteria can lie dormant for years after infection. Tuberculosis is spread through the air by droplets of water when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

  1. Isolation

    • Immediate isolation of people who have confirmed or suspected cases of tuberculosis can help stop the spread of the disease. Patients do not need to be kept isolated for longer than two weeks. Isolation should last until the patient responds to treatment and is not coughing. According to The Foundation for Better Health Care, people have a 50 percent chance of becoming infected if they spend eight hours a day for six months, or 24 hours a day for two months with a person with active tuberculosis.

    Respiratory Protection

    • This type of protection should be worn by a healthcare worker who enters a tuberculosis patient's room. This will protect them from contracting tuberculosis. The respirator should be a N-95 disposable particulate respirator (PR) that filters inhaled air. The respirator should be certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). A surgical mask is not adequate protection to protect someone from contracting tuberculosis.

    Training

    • Educating healthcare workers, and anyone that might come into contact with a tuberculosis patient, is the first step in helping to prevent the spread of tuberculosis. They should know the symptoms of tuberculosis infection, how it is spread, what the difference is between infection and disease, how it is diagnosed, how to prevent spread, and treatment for tuberculosis infection and active disease.

    Ventilation

    • One method of ventilation is dilution and removal of contaminants in the air. Pumping uncontaminated air into a room reduces the number of contaminants diluting them. An exhaust system should vent air outside the building. Air should flow into a tuberculosis patient's room from the areas nearby, creating a low or negative pressure in the patient's room. In hospitals that use recirculated air, HEPA filters should be installed the ventilation system. The filters remove most of the tuberculosis contaminants in the air.

    UV Lamps

    • There are two types of UV lamps, wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted. UV lamps disinfect the air supply in the ventilation system and inside a room. They should be left on 24 hours a day.

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