Medical Reserve Corps Supports Tuberculosis Testing Clinics
March 17, 2015
The Chittenden County Medical Reserve Corps supported the Vermont Department of Health’s efforts to conduct several tuberculosis (TB) testing clinics for 451 students and staff of Charlotte Central School this past January and February.
In January 2015, the Health Department confirmed a case of active tuberculosis in an employee at Charlotte Central School. Health Department staff worked with the school to identify students and staff who had been in close contact with the person who was ill. The Health Department conducted skin-testing clinics at the school with support from the Chittenden County Medical Reserve Corps volunteers. Placing and reading the TB tests took several days and a large number of staff. Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers helped maintain adequate staffing for these large clinics by providing intake support and comforting children during the TB skin test placement and reading process.
Trina Hikel, a Chittenden Country MRC volunteer since January 2013, participated in most of the clinics. “The Health Department’s clinics transformed the school gym into a mini healthcare facility, where hundreds of kids – some quite anxious – were tended through the TB placement and reading process.” Hikel described the experience as “a welcome refresher in patient-centered care assisting the 20 or 30 public health nurses from across the state.” She explained that she joined the MRC in order to support these types of public health efforts.
A second round of TB skin testing is planned to take place the first week of April. These clinics will re-test children and school staff who tested negative during the first round of testing in January and February. Staffing for these clinics will include more than a dozen Medical Reserve Corps volunteers from the Chittenden County, Northwest VT, and Rutland/Addison County MRC units.
Interested in joining the Medical Reserve Corps? Find out how here!
Some information about tuberculosis:
A positive skin test result does NOT mean that a person is sick with TB disease (active TB), or that they can pass the bacteria on to anyone else. A positive skin test result means that the person has been exposed to TB, and has the bacteria in his or her body (latent TB). It is perfectly safe for these children to be at the school, and for others to be around them, because they are not sick with TB and cannot spread the bacteria.
TB is an infectious bacterial disease that usually affects the lungs. TB can be spread through the air when a person who is ill with TB coughs or sneezes.
TB does not spread as easily as measles, whooping cough or the flu. It usually requires close contact over a longer period of time with the ill person. TB does not spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, kissing, or touching surfaces that an ill person has touched. There is no special cleaning required.
TB is treatable with antibiotics. The Health Department has investigated and supervised the treatment of 73 confirmed cases since 2003 – from a low of two in 2014 to eight in 2003, 2006 and 2011.
For more information about Tuberculosis go to http://healthvermont.gov/prevent/tb/Tuberculosis.aspx