vitamins and minerals

Are Your Nursing Assistants in the Know About Tuberculosis?

Do your CNAs know that a third of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis? While TB rates are declining in the United States, TB continues to be a serious problem. By sharing the following information and tips at your next CNA continuing education meeting, you will equip your staff with the knowledge they need to continue the fight against TB.

What is the problem with tuberculosis?

A hundred years ago, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the United States. But who cares ? It was a hundred years ago! We’ve come a long way in TB control since then, haven’t we? Well, yes… and no.

Yes, we have tests to find out if people have tuberculosis and we have medicine to treat the disease. And, we learned how to protect healthcare workers from infection and how to protect other patients in a hospital from a patient with TB.

But, the bacteria that cause TB are not giving up! Yet nearly 14,000 new cases of tuberculosis are reported each year in the United States. Tuberculosis bacteria have learned to outsmart our best drugs. And they like to attack people with weakened immune systems, like people with AIDS.

These tiny bacteria cause a serious illness that usually attacks and damages the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body like the kidneys, spine and brain.

A third of the world’s population (about 2 billion people) is infected with the tuberculosis bacillus. And one in ten people will fall ill with active tuberculosis.

Thus, it has never been more important to practice appropriate infection control measures against tuberculosis. In fact, our government has “declared war” on tuberculosis. The goal is to be rid of the tuberculosis bacteria in the United States by the year 2010! Achieving this goal will require your help – keep reading to find out how You can be part of the solution!

CT terms you need to know

PRESENT: People are exposed tuberculosis when they share the same air as someone with contagious tuberculosis.

TB SKIN TEST: There is a skin test for TB infection in which a small amount of test fluid is injected just under the skin on the lower arm. After two or three days, a healthcare worker checks for a positive reaction at the injection site. You might hear this test called the “Mantoux” test or the “PPD” test.

LATENT TB INFECTION: People with latent Tuberculosis infection has no symptoms, does not feel sick, cannot transmit tuberculosis to others, and usually has a positive skin test reaction. But they can develop TB later in life if they do not receive treatment for latent TB infection.

TB DISEASE: People who show signs of illness from TB bacteria are said to have TB disease. They have active or contagious TB and can pass it on to others. People with TB show signs of TB when doctors check their chest X-rays and examine their sputum under a microscope.

MULTI-DRUG RESISTANT TB (MDR-TB) – Tuberculosis disease caused by bacteria resistant to more than one drug often used to treat tuberculosis.

QUARANTINE: Quarantining people with active TB means they must stay in hospital or at home until they are no longer infectious.

DIRECTLY OBSERVED THERAPY (DOT): Because many people do not take their TB medications correctly, Directly Observed Therapy was developed. It is the name for tuberculosis treatment in which healthcare professionals or other people actually watch people take their anti-tuberculosis drugs.

Tuberculosis signs and symptoms

  • A productive cough that lasts longer than two weeks
  • Chest pain
  • coughing up blood
  • Fever and chills
  • Sweating at night
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weightloss
  • Constant tiredness

How is tuberculosis spread?

  • The germs that cause tuberculosis are spread through the air.
  • Tuberculosis can be passed from person to person by coughing, laughing, sneezing, singing or even talking.
  • TB is usually spread between family members, close friends, and people who spend time together in crowded places for long periods of time, such as prisons and homeless shelters.

Advice Five ways to help stop TB!


Remember that symptoms of active TB include persistent cough, chest pain, fever, chills, night sweats, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Keep an eye out for your clients for these signs, especially if they are over 65, have HIV, have other chronic conditions like diabetes or kidney failure, or have been exposed to someone else with the disease. of tuberculosis.


It is not up to you or your supervisor to diagnose TB. But you should report changes in your clients that could mean they have TB. And the sooner the better!

Your supervisor will ensure that the client is tested and that everyone working with the client protects themselves against possible infection.


Ask your clients to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze. Then throw the tissue in the trash.

Ventilate their rooms if possible (unless they are in a special isolation room). Tuberculosis spreads in small, enclosed spaces where air cannot circulate. Open a window if it’s not too cold. Consider using a fan to blow room air out the window.

Remind your clients how important it is for them to take their TB medicine. Don’t let them forget, especially when they start to feel better.


Whenever you work with clients who have or may have active TB, you should wear a personal respirator mask. Remember that a paper mask will not help. (TB bacteria are small enough to pass through the weaving of a paper mask.)

Make sure you have been fitted for the correct size mask and put it on before entering the client area. Wear it all the time you are with the client and only take it off after you leave!


Don’t ignore these important tests. If you don’t know when you should have another TB test, ask your supervisor. Then make sure you get it on time – don’t wait for someone to call you back. Getting tested on time could make a difference to you, your clients, your colleagues and your family.

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