Tuberculosis patients monitored via Internet

Tuberculosis patients monitored via Internet

Tuberculosis is a contagious disease caused by a bacteria, mycobacterium tuberculosis, that attacks the lungs or other parts of the body, such as the kidney, spine or brain, said Marni Storey, deputy director of Clark County Public Health.
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. However, not everyone with TB gets sick.
There are two varieties of tuberculosis: active disease and latent infection. A latent infection is when the bacteria is living in the body but not making the infected person sick. Active TB disease occurs when the immune system can’t stop the bacteria from multiplying in the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Untreated, TB can be fatal.
“It’s critical that they don’t miss doses,” Storey said. “People who miss doses can develop resistant tuberculosis.”
The monitoring of active TB cases traditionally meant public health staff had to drive to patients’ homes and administer the medications. Nearly three years ago, however, the health department launched a new technique.
Now staff uses Internet video chat programs, such as Skype and ooVoo, to watch tuberculosis patients take their medication. Currently, four Clark County residents are known to have active TB. Last year, there were nine cases in the county.
County public health nurse
James Lanz and medical assistant Cheryl Mixer gave an informational presentation about the program to Clark County commissioners at their last board of health meeting.
The switch to Internet monitoring frees public health staff to shift their time to other communicable disease work and saves the department money on travel expenses. The department saves, over the course of a patient’s treatment, $250 to $625 in travel expenses and 26 to 65 hours of staff time, depending on where the patient lives and the length of the monitoring.

Source : http://www.columbian.com/news/2012/mar/12/tb-patients-monitored-via-internet-county-official/      2012/3/15

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