Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Faster, more accurate TB test available -- but MCPS hasn't told parents about it

Parents of Watkins Mill High School students are being told that their children will have to wait two months to take a TB test.  But a test called Xpert MTB/RIF reliably detects active TB in just 2 hours instead the 2 months required by the old test that MCPS and the county are using.

The Xpert MTB/RIF test is safe and painless to administer and costs just $9.98 per test in developing countries.  The cost is subsidized in developing countries by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The cost in the USA is higher because it is not subsidized, but the manufacturer offers a significant discount to public health laboratories.

The test that the county is currently using requires that blood be drawn.  The new test requires only that the student provide a bit of saliva on a test strip.

Old test = blood and pain with results in two months -- however, the old test is appropriate to test for a TB infection when TB is not actually "active".
New test = completely painless with results in two hours -- but this test is appropriate only to determine if a TB infection has become "active".

The modern test is FDA approved and the CDC contributed to its development.
[The modern test] can simultaneously detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) complex DNA and mutations associated with rifampicin (RIF) resistance (a reliable proxy for MDR-TB) directly from sputum specimens in less than 2 hours, and it minimizes staff manipulation and biosafety risk.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't Montgomery County supposed to be the biotech capital of the world? If so, why isn't this test being offered to Watkiins Mill students? According to the World Health Organization (WHO) document, it's already available in developing countries.

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