As of July 1, 2012, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health discontinued the previously required universal tuberculosis (TB) testing for students entering grades K-12. It has been replaced with a universal screening and targeted testing approach. The new screening is now incorporated into the required physical exam for rising first graders. Universal TB Screening is a risk-based assessment, and allows physicians to screen only those students who meet one of the risk factors identified by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Risk factors include:
- Birth in a region of the world with endemic TB (e.g., Asia, Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and countries of the former Soviet Union)
- Travel to a high-incidence country for an extended period of time (i.e., at least one week)
- Exposure to persons with confirmed or suspected TB disease
- Close contact with someone who has had a positive test for TB infection
The new approach will allow physicians to focus on high-risk children, and avoid exposing children at low risk to unnecessary false positives, chest X-rays, and costly preventative treatments with potentially risky side effects. It is important to note that this change will not impact California’s TB screening requirements for preschool children, teachers, or volunteers.