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‚Äôs TB screening requirements for preschool children, teachers, or volunteers. 

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Topics: Health Trends, Education

Kathryn Sloop

Written by Kathryn Sloop

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