Due to concerns about employee exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB), managers at a long-term care facility in Alaska requested NIOSH’s help in identifying active TB disease sources and assessing the ventilation system at the facility. During the investigation, NIOSH staff found evidence of TB transmission among residents and employees of the facility and identified one resident with active pulmonary TB disease. According to NIOSH, this resident’s active TB disease was likely the source of the health care-associated transmission of latent TB infection found in eight residents and 16 facility employees. NIOSH investigators found no clear pattern between the ventilation system and the TB transmission. The agency’s findings were published in a health hazard evaluation (HHE) report released last week.
NIOSH made several recommendations to improve workplace health and safety at the facility, including:
provide annual TB training to all employees
instruct all employees to immediately report signs and symptoms of active TB disease in residents
upgrade the facility’s ventilation system with improved filters for resident areas
maintain appropriate temperature for nursing homes according to ASHRAE guidelines
NIOSH listed CDC’s “Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Health-care Settings, 2005” as a resource for more comprehensive recommendations.