DOH temporarily waives TB clearance requirements for state workers, schools

Tuberculosis

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There’s a nationwide shortage of the tuberculosis testing solution. The State Department of Health is temporarily lifting restrictions for students, food handlers, health care workers, and others who used to be required to get the TB clearance.

Many people have had to get TB tested at some point or another.

Starting Thursday, the state will no longer require TB testing for schools or the work place.

The move is raising a lot of eyebrows, especially for parents.

“It’s definitely a concern because this is a contagious disease,” parent Kinsey Kim said. “Hawaii is a place where there are a lot of people from Asian countries or all over the world.”

It’s the first time the Department of Health has suspended TB clearance requirements.

“What will probably happen is that they’ll have to keep records of whose being admitted to school without and when they’re able to go through the inoculation process,” Washington Middle School principal Michael Harano said.

In Hawaii, about 1,000 people are tested every week for TB. Now, that number will be limited to about 100 a week, for those who show symptoms or have been exposed to the disease, high risk immigrants, or people with immunodeficiencies.

“People who have active TB symptoms we are most concerned about two or three weeks, sometimes some blood in the cough, night sweats, fevers,” Tuberculosis Control Branch Chief Dr. Richard Brostrom said.

Health experts say the public shouldn’t be too concerned and there is little chance for an outbreak.

“We will still be managing and curing the hundred or so cases of TB that occur in Hawaii every year,” Dr. Brostrom said.

The DOH expects the shortage to last through the summer and to reinstate the TB clearance requirements by the next school year.

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