Dear USET/USET SPF Family,
Our commitment to supporting our USET member Tribal Nations includes providing resources and recommendations to reduce the prevalence of diseases in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a Public Health Advisory through the Maine Health Alert Network regarding an increase in cases of tuberculosis within the state over the past year. Although the absolute numbers of active tuberculosis cases are relatively small, in 2023 there was a 41% increase in cases as compared to the average number of cases from 2018 through 2022.
Although tuberculosis most commonly affects the lungs, it can present in almost any part of the body. It is important for health care workers, particularly medical and nursing staff, to maintain awareness that tuberculosis is not a disease of the past. The most common symptoms of tuberculosis are fever, cough, hemoptysis (coughing up blood), weight loss, and night sweats. Anyone who has had a significant exposure to a case of active tuberculosis should be evaluated for tuberculosis. The Public Health Advisory issued by the Maine CDC on November 29, 2023, defines significant exposure and gives excellent guidance on how to evaluate close contacts of an active tuberculosis patient as well as how to evaluate a patient who is displaying any signs or symptoms of tuberculosis.
The USET Medical Epidemiologist has reviewed the guidance and agrees that it is appropriate for the USET member Tribal Nations in the Maine area. Please distribute copies of the Public Health Advisory to all of your clinical staff so that they may be well informed of this potential threat. The USET Tribal Epidemiology Center will continue to monitor this situation.