HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – Henderson County Department of Public Health officials announced Friday that they will no longer offer routine tuberculosis skin test screenings due to a nationwide shortage of the purified protein derivative used in the skin testing.
According to the news release, the North Carolina TB program has recommended that health departments and hospitals to put off TB skin testing during the shortage for lower risk people, in hopes that this will help preserve the remaining supply during the shortage for high-risk people and outbreaks.
Officials said anyone needing a TB test for employment or school, public health nurses can assess a patient’s risk through a screening questionnaire and if a test is not needed, they will be given a letter saying that the patient is low risk for TB.
Anyone who wants a TB test will be referred for an interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) blood test, which is reliable but has a higher cost.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TB is a disease caused by bacteria, which can damage the lungs or other parts of the body like the spine, lymph nodes or kidneys, and if not treated properly it can be fatal.
TB can be spread through the air from one person to another when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings, according to the release.
A person with active TB may be infectious and must receive treatment.
According to the release, by law physicians must report TB cases to the local health department.
In North Carolina, treatment of both Latent TB Infection and TB disease is provided for free through local health departments.
For more information, call the Immunization Clinic at 828-694-6015, visit hendersoncountync.gov/health/page/communicable-disease or visit https://www.hendersoncountync.gov/health/page/tuberculosis-tb-0.