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The Nurse Practitioner

March 2013, Volume 38 Number 3 , p 16 - 18


  • Cathy R. Kessenich DSN, ARNP
  • Kristi Cronin BSN


Tuberculosis continues to be a major health concern and is one of the deadliest diseases in the world. It is estimated that close to 1 billion people will become newly infected globally by 2020.1 A total of 10,521 new cases of tuberculosis were reported in the United States in 2011.2 A record decline was seen from 2008 to 2009; however, the 2010 number of cases reported showed an increase.2 Tuberculosis is more common among foreign-born individuals from countries where there is a higher incidence of tuberculosis. It is also common in high-risk demographic groups, including prisoners, the homeless, and those living in close proximity, such as college dorms, long-term care, and assisted living facilities.1,3 Healthcare workers have also shown an increased incidence of tuberculosis, which is most likely transmitted due to accidental exposure to a patient infected with tuberculosis.4 Tuberculosis continues to be a major health concern, and early screening/detection of patients that may be infected is highly important.Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the bacillus responsible for causing tuberculosis infection.1 Tuberculosis is an airborne infection that is spread by droplet nuclei that are present in the respiratory secretions of those who are actively infected.1 These droplets can be spread through coughing, talking, and sneezing.1 Living in crowded and confined conditions increases the incidence of spreading tuberculosis because when these droplets are released, they remain suspended in the air and can be inhaled by others.1 Persons infected with HIV are at significantly higher risk for developing tuberculosis due to immunodeficiency.1,3 Tuberculosis exists in the form of a latent and active infection. Patients with latent tuberculosis do not experience symptoms and cannot transmit the infection to others.1,4 Patients with active tuberculosis may experience signs and symptoms, including fever, cough, dyspnea, night sweats, chest pain, hemoptysis, fatigue, loss of appetite,

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