Jails and federal prisons in California and elsewhere are adopting new treatment guidelines for latent tuberculosis infection based on research showing that it can be treated effectively during a much shorter period.
A recent study led by local and state health officials compared the new and more traditional treatment protocols in the jail system of Santa Clara County. It found a 12-week two-drug regimen is as effective as the traditional nine-month single-drug approach to treating latent infection, which is not contagious but without treatment can progress to active disease. Plus the shorter regimen significantly boosted the percentage of inmates who completed treatment.
“Essentially what we found was a huge improvement in the completion rate for latent TB infection,” said Maria Juarez-Reyes, lead author of the clinical trial and an assistant clinical professor at Stanford University and.
Santa Clara County has California’s fifth-largest jail system, with approximately 4,000 inmates, and the state as a whole has nearly double the national incidence rate of active TB, a highly contagious bacterial infection that can be fatal if not treated properly.