If you’ve traveled to foreign countries or received any type of drug testing when starting a new job, you’re likely familiar with the tuberculosis skin test. For those who may be unaware, the TB skin test is performed by clinical personnel who injects a small amount of fluid (called tuberculin) into the skin on the lower part of the arm. Then, the person given the TB skin test must return within two to three days to have a trained health care worker review the arm for any sort of reaction.
Did you know there are two types of methods used for detecting Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection? The two ways are skin tests and blood tests.
There is a sincere importance behind why we are talking about TB testing. Just several weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) addressed a 3 to 10-month nationwide shortage of APLISOL®, a product of Par Pharmaceuticals. APLISOL® is one of two purified-protein derivative (PPD) tuberculin antigens that are licensed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in performing tuberculin skin tests.
The manufacturer notified CDC that they anticipate a supply interruption of APLISOL® 5 mL (50 tests) beginning in June 2019, followed by a supply interruption of APLISOL® 1 mL (10 tests) in November 2019. The expected shortage of APLISOL® 1 mL (10 tests) could occur before November 2019, if demand increases before then.
Due to the impending nationwide shortage of skin tests for tuberculosis, effective immediately MedSpring Urgent Care has decided to offer the QuantiFERON Gold blood test. The CDC has recommended three general approaches to prevent a decrease in TB testing capability because of the expected shortage of APLISOL®, and one of those recommendations is a blood test.
“MedSpring offers a superior patient experience and will ensure that patients receive high-quality health care in all the centers located in Chicago, IL. With this blood test, patients will be able to obtain results quicker than with TB skin tests, making it a far more convenient option for many folks,” said MedSpring Chief Medical Officer and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Scott Burger.
CDC recommends TB screening for certain at-risk patients, such as:
- People who live or work in high-risk congregate settings (e.g., nursing homes, colleges)
- Healthcare workers who care for patients at increased risk for TB
- People who have spent time with someone who has TB
- People who are immunocompromised
- People who are high-risk substance users
- Foreign-born persons, especially from countries with high TB incidence or prevalence
CDC Health Alert Network. Nationwide shortage of tuberculin skin test antigens: CDC recommendations for patient care and public health practice. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2019. https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00420.asp?deliveryName=DM1457
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