Health centers experiencing statewide shortage of tuberculosis skin test

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by Lucy Bustamante, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on October 8, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 8 at 6:00 PM

NEWPORT NEWS -- Judith Harold traveled to her local health center in Newport News Tuesday and was upset to find out the Tuberculosis skin test PPD that she needs isn't available.  

The tuberculosis skin test is used to determine if someone has developed an immune response to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.

"I am very disappointed that the PPD shot isn't available," Harold said.  "It lets us know if we have tuberculosis and it's a requirement that our company, Serenity, a home health care company, requires because we care for special needs adults."  

State Epidemiologist Dr. David Trump says the shortage is due to the same manufacturing problem that's gone on for months now.

"The manufacturers aren't able to produce a sufficient quantity to meet the need.  There was an expectation that it would become available later this year," Dr. Trump said.

Trump says there's also a short supply of Pentacel and HIB.  Pentacel offers protection from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis and influenza type B.   HIB offers protection against influenza type B. So far, providers in Virginia are keeping it in stock.

"Last month we provided guidance to all physicians to what the alternatives are," says Dr. Trump, who has instructed physicians to do blood work until the TB test come back into stock.

The health department wants to emphasize these shortages are not due to the shutdown.

The CDC has furloughed 68 employees and while it's flu prevention campaigns have been halted, they say the vaccine supply isn't impacted.

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