Stopping TB In The Classroom

Tuberculosis guidelines and requirements for teachers

The entire process was very well run and the wait time between the different procedures was short. I was very impressed that the staff made the effort to learn some basic Chinese to help patients.
—Mobile Health Patient
teachers tuberculosis

Even though tuberculosis cases continue to drop in the United States, the disease remains a threat in foreign countries.  More than one-third of TB cases in the United States come from foreign born individuals. Because exposure from New York City tourists and foreign residents raises the risk of infection, NYC teachers should get tested for tuberculosis.

Also, testing will curb the spread of disease to students, families or other individuals. Read more about tuberculosis testing requirements for NYC teachers.

FAQs: NYC Teachers and Tuberculosis

The following sections address common concerns related to the testing of NYC teachers for tuberculosis.


Is TB testing required for NYC teachers?

Teachers’ daily interpersonal exposure with students, teachers and faculty members raises their risk of exposure to TB. Therefore, New York City school systems should limit risk of exposure or have having an inflow of tuberculosis germs by requiring annual TB testing.

In the United States, law requires local & state health departments to facilitate the control & prevention of tuberculosis spreading.  In regions lacking sufficient resources & staff to manage the outbreak, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) may also assist in containing the outbreak.


What tuberculosis testing options exist for NYC teachers?

The most two commonly utilized tuberculosis tests are the purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test and the QuantiFERON (QFT) blood assay exam.

During the PPD skin test, the patient is injected with tuberculin in the top layer of the patient’s forearm. If the patient has ever been exposed to the TB bacteria, their skin will react to the antigens by developing a firm red bump at the site within 2 or 3 days. That’s why the patient must return for a reading of the induration (injection site) 24-48 hours after the procedure. If the patient does not return for a reading within this period, their test will be voided.

However, QFT tests only require one office visit. The QFT consists of a quick blood draw that confirms if the patient is TB positive or not.

Following a positive result from either a QFT or PPD test, a tuberculosis chest X-ray may be required.

Read more on the pros and cons of QuantiFERON and PPD tests.

What should I do in case of a reported case of active TB in School?

  • The physician should notify the NYC Department of Health within 24 hours.
  • Follow the DOH standardized protocol as part of the investigation for the source case and other potential contacts.
  • DOH will notify the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) there is a confirmed case of active tuberculosis.
  • When a confirmed case exists, DOH will provide a letter to staff and parents detailing DOH next steps.
  • Schedule DOH to visit the school, meet with the principal and discuss their investigation. The DOH will always agree to present the information in separate staff and parent events.
  • The DOH may also conduct tuberculin skin testing (TST) at the school. This test shows if a person has been infected with TB germs. The DOH conducts this test 8 weeks after exposure to someone with active TB. That’s because it can take several weeks after infection for the immune system to react to the TB skin test. If recent exposure to TB occurred, you may have a false-negative result to the skin test. This commonly results when the skin test is done less than 8 weeks after the last exposure. The DOH will administer the test at the school and return to the school 2-3 days later to “read” the skin test.
  • If you have a positive reaction to the skin test, the DOH may do other tests to see if you have active TB disease. These tests may include a chest X-ray, medical examination and a test of the phlegm you cough up.

What should I do in case of a suspected case of TB in School?

  • The UFT Health and Safety Department will contact the TB unit of the DOH directly for discussion of the student or staff member. (Name, DOB, hospital they’ve been treated in)
  • At no time will they violate the confidentiality of the student or staff member.

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