On Aug. 8, International Community Health Services (ICHS) was visited by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a part of a joint effort to end tuberculosis worldwide.
ICHS is one of four locations across the nation that the CDC has partnered with in the Tuberculosis Epidemiologic Studies Consortium (TBESC). Its purpose is to carry out research and studies to help improve the identification of tuberculosis, as well as improve screening and treatment, in primary care settings.
“Tuberculosis is the leading infectious cause of death worldwide,” said Rebecca Calderara, ICHS nurse practitioner and project coordinator for TBESC. “The goal of our program is to screen and treat more patients with latent tuberculosis, with the goal of preventing active tuberculosis.”
More than 80% of active tuberculosis cases in the U.S. are from activation of latent tuberculosis, which is asymptomatic. Thus, treating latent tuberculosis before it becomes active can prevent active tuberculosis, which is infectious and has a high mortality rate.
“It’s a phenomenal opportunity for ICHS to work with both the CDC and the Tuberculosis Control Program at King County at ICHS,” said Calderara.
Many people in the United States do not think tuberculosis is of concern to them. However, tuberculosis largely affects immigrant populations from countries with a high incidence rate of tuberculosis, as in many Asian countries. As ICHS largely treats an immigrant Asian population in Seattle, there is a high prevalence rate of latent tuberculosis in the patient population. ICHS continues to see active cases of tuberculosis every year.
ICHS’ efforts with CDC
In September 2021, ICHS, in partnership with King County Tuberculosis program, began collecting baseline data of ICHS’ current practices around screening for tuberculosis and treating latent tuberculosis. In October 2022, they rolled out their first research intervention, which involved provider education about tuberculosis.
They also offered a free program for any uninsured patients to receive screening and treatment for latent tuberculosis. In February of 2023, they began a case management intervention and have just launched their fourth intervention, which helps to flag cases electronically to help identify where treatment is needed.
They have already increased their screening rate of tuberculosis by about 20% since they launched in September 2021.
“Globally, tuberculosis is the leading cause of death by an infectious disease,” said Calderara. “Through ICHS’ partnership with the CDC and King County, we can help contribute to research that helps improve treatment of latent TB and prevent active cases of TB, with the ultimate goal of eliminating tuberculosis worldwide.”