Why do we need a TB skin test?

  1. Yesterday, I was looking at some teen volunteer opportunities for my daughter to do this summer and noticed one required a TB skin test (at our zoo). She is deathly afraid of needles and loves animals, so we might have to force her to get this so she can volunteer.

    Anyway, I was thinking about them in general and began to wonder, why do we still need these? I know TB is a bad disease and that is becoming more prevelent than in the recent past. I also know there are some resistant strains coming along. BUT there are all kinds of bad bugs out there and we don't get tested for those.

    Is TB skin testing one of those old requirments that is now a little outdated? Doe is really prevent anything?

    Just wondering.
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    About mappers

    Joined: Aug '09; Posts: 447; Likes: 550
    Specialty: Med/Surg/Tele/Onc


  3. by   Morning-glory
    It probably is a remenant of days gone by, but at the same time, people can have it and not know, spreadning it around to those that are more vulnerable, who will develop the disease. My brother wanted to volunteer at a Senior's residence with his wife, but found him to be positive. They then did a chest X-ray and found that it was not in his lungs. Started him on meds and then he was able to go to the facility. The meds are awful, and he will always test positive. But better that, than develop active TB.

    He works on a ship and they are all in close quarters for long periods of time.

    I am still negative.

    Don't that this helped at all, but there are valid reasons to keep testing as TB can be in your system for a long time and you can spread it without being sick.
  4. by   oncrnpa
    I disagree... TB is NOT a "reminant of days gone by". Worldwide there are many cases (some quote as high as 1/3 of the world population) of TB and drug resistant TB and we now are a global community meaning there is great movement of individuals between locations. We in the USA have a skewed view of this disease because we don't hear about patients and their treatment but instead are usually only exposed to the yearly and pre-employment testing. If you are curious about the statistics in your area regarding incidence refer to the CDC.

    As for the requirement for a zoo volunteer position there are a number of animals which can be carriers and transmitters of TB the most examples that quickly come to mind are cows, badgers, pigs, deer, elk. While I understand that these animal TB strains vary from human TB strains they are not without health and economic consequences.
  5. by   Lisa, MA
    We just dealt with this issue where I work. Ironically, even though I am a medical profession who works in "traditional health care", I ascribe to natural alternative medicine where my family and I are concerned. So I declined any TB testing or vaccinations from my employer. I had to put this in writing.

    Depending on the laws of your state, if you have had a baseline negative TB test and you do not fit the criteria for "high risk", then you are not required by law to do this annually.

    However, if your employer dictates that this is part of your employment agreement, you might have to comply or they can fire you. I got around that by offering to have a blood test to ensure that I was not a carrier or positive. Currently there are two Interferon gamma release assays (IGRA) approved by the FDA for the diagnosis of latent TB infection. The QuantiFERON-TB Gold Test and the TSpot TB Test. These blood tests measure the response to TB proteins when they are mixed with a small amount of blood.
    You could also opt for a chest x-ray, but in my opinion that is unnecessary exposure to radiation. So I wont personally agree to that either.
  6. by   sassy_squirrel
    I would think that as it is at the zoo that the test would be possibly to protect the animals from being infected.