Cause: Bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Illness and treatment: Tuberculosis (TB) usually affects the lungs, but can affect lymph nodes, bones, joints, and other parts of the body. Infection may be latent, and not communicable, or active. Typical symptoms are fever, weight loss, night sweats, cough, bloody sputum, and chest pain. If you have latent TB infection (LTBI) but not TB disease, your physician may want you to take medication to prevent you from developing TB disease. If you have active TB disease you must complete a course of curative therapy.
Sources and spread: TB is spread from person to person through the air. When a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs or sneezes the TB bacteria may get into the air and be breathed in by others.
Additional risks: Tuberculosis disproportionately impacts the state’s most vulnerable populations, e.g., people born outside of the United States, people residing in correctional facilities, people experiencing homelessness, etc. People with weakened immune systems and children < 5 years of age are at increased risk of progressing to TB disease once infected.
Prevention: Stop the spread of TB by covering the mouth and nose when coughing, and take all TB medicine exactly as prescribed. Completing treatment for LTBI and infectious TB prevents the spread of TB and the development of resistant strains. Persons at risk can be screened for TB.
Washington trends: On average, 4 cases of TB disease are diagnosed in WA each week. An estimated 200,000 people in WA are infected with TB.
Purpose of Reporting and Surveillance
- To identify and ensure the adequate evaluation and treatment of persons with TB disease
- To identify the contacts of TB cases and ensure their evaluation
- To ensure that all eligible infected contacts are offered and complete preventive therapy
Legal Reporting Requirements
- Health care providers and Health care facilities: TB disease (confirmed or highly suspicious, i.e., initiation of empiric treatment) notifiable to local health jurisdiction (LHJ) within 24 hours.
- Laboratories: Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) (Tuberculosis) culture, Nucleic acid amplification detection (NAT or NAAT), or drug susceptibilities (molecular and culture based) notifiable to Department of Health within 2 business days; submission required - Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex positive isolate (earliest available isolate for the patient), within 2 business days.
- Local health jurisdictions: Notifiable to the Washington State Department of Health within 7 days of case investigation or summary required within 21 days (WAC 246-101).