Stopping TB In The Classroom

Tuberculosis guidelines and requirements for teachers

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Even though Tuberculosis cases continue to drop in the United States the disease remains a threat in foreign countries with over 33% of TB cases coming from foreign born individuals. 

The risk for NYC teachers often happens due to the exposure of travelers and foreign residents that make up the city.

It’s important, therefore, to get TB tested annually to reduce the risk of infection or spreading the disease to students or other individuals.

For more on the tuberculosis testing requirement for NYC teachers read our article or continue to read below for answered to FAQ on TB testing for NYC Teachers.

  • Is it required for teachers in NYC to get TB tested?
  • What exam options are available to NYC teachers for TB testing?
  • What should I do if there is a reported case of active TB in school?
  • What should I do if there is a suspected case of TB in school?

    Is it required for teachers in NYC to get TB tested?

    Given the interpersonal exposure most teachers have with students, teachers and faculty members on a daily basis the risk of exposure to TB can be high. It’s therefore good policy for New York City school systems to 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 situations where there is less-substantial resources & staff to manage the outbreak, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) may also assist in containing the outbreak.


    What exam options are available to NYC teachers for TB testing?

    The most two common tuberculosis test utilized is the PPD test and the QuantiFERON exam. PPDs test if active tuberculin tests are present and will only determine if a person has been exposed and might carry TB.

    PPD skin test require the patient to be injected with tuberculin in the top layer of the patient’s forearm. The patient must come back to have the induration (area where injection was made) read 24-48 hours after the procedure or the test will be voided. QuantiFERONs, however, only require one office visit and is a quick blood draw that confirms if the patient is TB positive or not.

    Find out more on the pros and cons of PPDs and QuantiFERONs here.

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

    • The physician should notify NYC Dept 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 UFT that there is a confirmed case.
    • When there is a confirmed case, DOH will provide a letter to staff and parents with details regarding how the DOH will proceed.
    • Schedule DOH to visit the school, meet with the principal and discuss the process of their investigation. They are always willing to present the information in an educational session during the day for staff and in the evening for parents.
    • The DOH may also conduct tuberculin skin testing (TST) at the school. This test shows if a person has been infected with TB germs. This test is generally after 8 weeks after exposure to someone with active TB because it can take several weeks after infection for your immune system to react to the TB skin test. If you were exposed to TB recently, you may have a false-negative result to the skin test if the skin test was done in less than 8 weeks after you were last exposed. 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 if there is a suspect case of TB in School?

    • The UFT Health and Safety Department will contact the TB unit of the DOH directly and discuss all the information we have about the student or staff member. (Name, DOB, hospital they’ve been treated in)
    • At no time will the confidentiality of the student or staff member be violated.