Healthcare workers urged to take special care

Due to the nature of their work, healthcare workers are more at risk of developing infections than the general population.
Any patient could potentially have untreated TB.
It is standard practice for healthcare workers to wear an N95 or FFP2 mask when treating TB patients, especially if the patient’s response to treatment is unknown.
Dr Vernon Wessels, from ER24, said that if a patient does not require oxygen therapy, it is practical for the patient to wear an N95 mask when in close contact with people while still infectious as it contains the TB germ and prevents spread to other people.
“Some N95 masks are fitted with an expiration valve to make it more comfortable for wearers as a person does not have to exhale through the filter material. This type of mask will not work if a TB patient wears it as their expired air with the TB germs would exit through the valve and into the atmosphere,” said Dr Wessels.
Remember that there is a greater chance of TB spreading in small spaces, overcrowded and poorly ventilated areas. If it is suspected that a patient has untreated TB, take them to an area where they will not be in close contact with other people if possible.
It is vital for healthcare workers to go for testing if they experience symptoms.
Symptoms include prolonged cough, fever, night sweats, weight and appetite loss, tiredness, weakness, chest pain and coughing up blood.
If test results are positive, it is important that healthcare workers start treatment immediately and continue taking their medication until the treatment is completed.

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