Standard-Examiner (Ogden) (11.17.2013)
The Standard-Examiner recently reported that a shortage of Tubersol solution used for TB skin tests caused some Utah jails to limit TB testing to high-risk populations instead of testing every incoming prisoner. Davis County Sheriff’s Sergeant Susan Poulsen stated that high-risk inmates included federal prisoners, inmates booked by federal marshals, people from countries with high TB prevalence, and anyone who had TB symptoms. According to Bob Ballew, Davis County Health Department public information officer, the county received only one 10-dose bottle of Tubersol each month. Most people who sought TB testing from the public health office did so to satisfy employment or education requirements or to qualify for church missions.
CDC alerted health officials about the Tubersol shortage earlier in the year so that private practitioners, health departments, and county jails could ration the supplies during the temporary shortage. Tubersol’s manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur Limited, had to shut down production and packaging temporarily, which resulted in a Tubersol shortage and caused a scarcity of Aplisol, a skin test manufactured by JHP Pharmaceuticals. Utah Department of Health Spokesperson Tom Hudachko stated that the Aplisol supply had improved since early October, and the manufacturer was selling Aplisol to current customers, including local county jails.
Estimating that its current Tubersol supply would last six to eight weeks, Salt Lake City County Jail would not test incoming prisoners who had a TB test within the last year, unless the person showed TB symptoms.
Weber County Jail officials limited testing to incoming prisoners with high TB risk, according to Health Administrator Dr. Kay Haw. She noted that no test results were positive during the two-week shortage. Weber-Morgan Health Department Spokesperson Lori Buttars noted that the department was aware of only four active TB cases in the two counties.