To mark World TB Day we caught up with Rosemary Kingori, one of our Tuberculosis Specialist Nurses, who is passionate about joining the international effort to eradicate this killer disease by 2023.
How long you have been in your current job?
I have been working for the Tuberculosis (TB) Nurse Service for seven years. TB is a bacterial infection which mainly affects the lungs but can also affect any part of the body. It’s an airborne disease that is spread through cough droplets and sneezing or even singing.
It is curable but TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers.
Is TB something that affects people in the UK?
We don’t choose the air we breathe therefore anyone can catch TB. The UK is one of the countries with the lowest disease burden with approximately 10,000 notified cases a year. This number has been decreasing with improved diagnostic services, treatment and contact tracing work. Also a lot of work has gone into targeted screening of those groups of people with higher rates of TB such as prisoners, the homeless, people with a history of drugs or alcohol abuse and migrants from higher risk countries.
What are the symptoms of TB?
- Persistent cough that lasts for more than three weeks
- Drenching night sweats especially at night
- Unexplained weight loss
- Coughing up blood
- Other symptoms are dependent on the parts of the body affected.
How does it have an impact worldwide?
Annually, there are approximately 10 million diagnosed cases of TB and approximately 1.2 million deaths. End TB is a World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative to focus the attention on the need for the world to invest in detection, diagnosis, treatment and control of TB globally with a goal to eradicate it by 2030.
“The Clock is Ticking” is this years strap-line for World TB Day.
The World Health Organisation want to put the focus back onto TB services or the gains made in reducing the TB rates will be lost and make world leaders understand how important it is that services continue to run with no interruption even during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Is TB more deadly than Covid-19?
COVID-19 and TB are both airborne infections. However TB is not as highly contagious as COVID-19 and is not as easy to catch. This is because for TB transmission someone needs to spend a lot of time with an infected person, so mainly people living in the same household or spending a lot of time together in confined places like prisons, sharing an office or in an education setting. COVID-19 can be transmitted within just 15 minutes.
What does a typical day as a TB nurse involve?
My day is quite varied. We are involved in the individual’s journey from pre-diagnosis to the end of their treatment with infection control work and prevention in-between. We also provide information, advice and education about TB to health professionals and members of the public. Throughout the pandemic we have worked hard to keep the service running.
What do you like most about working for Sirona?
No one day is the same. Our outreach community services help us to have a unique working relationship with people and their families.
Being able to see people in their home environment helps us to assess their needs and social risk factors and we can give them care tailored to their needs through a holistic approach.
What does your team do to educate people about TB across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire?
Before the COVID-19 Pandemic we delivered a lot of teaching to prison staff, homeless health teams, drug and alcohol workers, medical workers, those working with asylum seekers as well as GP’s. We have also held TB awareness raising sessions in prisons and various community groups. We hope to continue this work once restrictions are lifted.
How important is it for health care professionals to recognise the signs and symptoms of TB?
TB is often overlooked and can be difficult to diagnose and treat.
It’s very important for professionals to “Think TB” when they see people with suspected symptoms. Early recognition of symptoms and a prompt referral to our specialist TB services is very important to reduce the gap from symptoms to starting treatment. The earlier it is detected and treated the better the outcome for the patient.
How can we prevent cases of TB in the UK?
Cases of TB can be prevented by taking measures to effectively treat infections as well as good infection control measures. Prompt diagnosis and starting treatment early can also reduce the onward transmission of infection to others. In the UK, the BCG immunisation programme is given to all children born in households from countries with high infection rates and also those where there is history of TB in the household.
Careers at Sirona
We actively promote equality of opportunity for all and aim to employ a workforce that reflects the communities we serve. Our career opportunities are varied and diverse, offering defined development routes for staff. View our current vacancies to see what a career at Sirona could look like for you.