Tuberculosis Care & Prevention in Lowell
Due to the global nature of our community, tuberculosis (TB) is of particular concern to the City of Lowell Health Department. Lowell's public health nurses coordinate the management of tuberculosis cases, in accordance with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) requirements.
Types of TB
Tuberculosis is caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that is spread from person to person through the air. Tuberculosis can be latent or active.
Latent Versus Active
People with latent TB infection have TB germs in their bodies, but the germs are "asleep." They do not have symptoms of TB disease, and they cannot spread the germs to others.
People with Active TB, or TB disease, usually have TB symptoms. The TB germs in their bodies are active, and they are infectious, capable of spreading germs to others.
View the Fact Sheet: Latent TB infection versus TB disease.
Public Health Objectives
The primary public health objectives in tuberculosis care and prevention are the appropriate treatment of individuals with TB disease (Active TB) and the prevention of the spread of this contagious disease. To meet these goals, Lowell's public health nurses perform a range of functions in the care and follow up of individuals with TB including the following.
- Assessing the needs of the individual with Active TB.
- Gathering information regarding their close contacts at home and in the community.
- Coordinating the testing and treatment of all those exposed to the case with the regional TB clinic and private physicians, according to individual needs.
- Assuring client compliance with the treatment plan, until treatment has been completed.
About the Tb Team
The TB team meets monthly, and communicates continually with the MDPH TB surveillance personnel regarding Active TB cases and their contacts. The team communicates directly with local hospitals and the regional tuberculosis clinic to plan the appropriate return of the individuals to the community, and the follow up care necessary to complete treatment and prevent spread of this disease.
Lowell's public health nurses are available to conduct outreach programs to educate both the public and private sectors about TB. If your organization is interested in a presentation, contact the Health Department at 978-674-4307.