Should HCWs wear respirators when playing with children (with TB) outside?
Hello, I have received a question from some adherence counsellors in a pediatric TB facility. The facility has children of all ages (1-15 years old), both DS and DRTB, both smear positive and smear negative. When the counsellors play with the children outside, they do not want to remove their respirators. The counsellors are very ‘hands-on’, giving lots of hugs close contact with the children. They state this close contact is the reason they do not want to remove their respirators, despite the respirators impacting the psychosocial aspects of their work.
I’m at a loss as to what to recommend for them considering the following
1. When outside, they sometimes share breathing space with the children because of the ‘close contact’ nature of their work.
2. Children are not generally infectious (pacaubacilliary, weak cough etc..)
3. Respirators impact the social aspects of their work
4. The counsellors have a lot of fear that they will catch TB from the children despite receiving lots of education about TB and transmission
5. Many of the children are too young to practice cough hygiene.
Susan Adolph, RN
ICO MSF Uzbekistan/Tajikistan