Tuesday, May 5, 1998


In just three days, the California Department of Corrections tested about 110,000 inmates for tuberculosis (TB) and then read the results. Medical staff began the tests Saturday, April 25 and read the results Monday, April 27.

Between that time, inmate movement into and out of all state prisons was halted. Most inmates in the system were given a TB skin test using PPD (purified protein derivative). Only those who were previously documented as testing positive or those who had been tested within the last 30 days were excluded.

"California is widely recognized as a leader in correctional health care," said C.A. Terhune, Director of Corrections. "Nowhere is it more evident than in our aggressive program to identify and treat tuberculosis."

During the annual TB screening, all inmates are evaluated for signs and symptoms of the disease. Any inmate exhibiting symptoms is placed in respiratory isolation for further evaluation. Typically a chest x-ray and/or sputum sample is taken to determine if those newly testing positive are infectious. Even if active infection is not present, they may receive medications to prevent development of the disease.

Test results are then entered into the Department’s Inmate TB Alert System, an automated system that tracks the TB status of every inmate. This system keeps up-to-date records of every inmate in the Department of Corrections. Re-tests are required if an inmate transfers between institutions, goes out to court, comes in contact with known TB, is paroled, or if medically indicated.

"This extensive testing and tracking system allows us to quickly identify, treat, and contain the spread of TB infection in California state prisons," said Director Terhune.