SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. –The Snohomish Health District Tuberculosis (TB) Program was presented with the “2013 Outstanding TB Team” award from the Washington State Department of Health TB Program on October 23, 2013 at the annual conference of state and local public health TB specialists in Tacoma.
State officials said the Snohomish Health District TB Program received the honor because of the staff’s dedication to and leadership in TB control in Washington. The Health District’s TB team handles some of the highest rates and most complicated cases of TB in the state.
“Tuberculosis is a serious disease that can be fatal, yet it is curable and preventable, so the community work of local health staff like those in Snohomish County is vital to prevention,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “The knowledge and expertise of the Snohomish Health District TB Program staff, along with their outstanding performance and dedication to TB control, is clearly helping make the community they serve safer and healthier there and throughout the state.”
The TB program recently completed the treatment and management of four connected cases of active TB begun in 2012 among mental health clients in Everett. In addition to finding the active cases, the TB team looked for people who had been exposed over time to the lung disease. This led to screening and testing 107 more people for TB. Eleven of those were treated for latent TB infection, which means the patients have breathed in TB bacteria but are not actively sick.
The local TB program in Snohomish County handles 20-26 active cases of TB annually. Tuberculosis is preventable and treatable. In prior years, staff worked on a complex medical investigation in the drug-using community, in a local high school, and in multicultural communities. An additional challenge is the rising incidence of TB that is resistant to many antibiotics used for treatment.
“All of us at the Snohomish Health District are very proud of our TB program staff for their devotion to helping people who have TB or who could get sick from it,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of the county’s public health agency. “They do excellent, difficult work every day to keep county residents healthy. The ‘Outstanding TB Team’ award from the state Department of Health is an exciting and valued recognition of their effort.”
The program team members were Dr. Chris Spitters, physician consultant; Dr. Joseph Aharchi, program manager; nurses Naomi Kern, Karen Winchell, Anna Hippchen, and Christina Griffiths; Alicia McQuen, disease investigation specialist; outreach workers and linguists Vanny Khy-Preston and Kon Setiaev; and support staff Lisa Pederson, Sally Anderson, and Linda Douglas.
Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Find more information about the Health District at www.snohd.org.