Attendees looking for a rigorous tutorial on the epidemiology of and testing mechanisms for tuberculosis (TB) should attend the Role of the Laboratorian and Clinician in the Diagnosis and Management of Tuberculosis (32221), a July 31 afternoon symposium at the 69th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo.

Two experts from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus will discuss the “whys” and “whens” of selecting the best TB test and methods for fighting this disease in the United States and in developing countries.

Attendees will gain new insights on identifying and explaining the different available technologies for TB diagnosis and different treatment options for infected individuals, according to a joint statement from co-presenters, Joan-Miquel Balada-Llasat, PharmD, PhD, Wexner’s director of immunology and associate director of clinical microbiology, and Shu-Hua Wang, MD, MPH, PharmD, an associate professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

They also plan to contrast testing and management workflows in developed and resource-limited countries.

The nature of TB makes it challenging to diagnose. Testing is a costly venture, often requiring multiple tests, including molecular tests, to increase the accuracy of a diagnosis.

Even if funds are available, major issues remain, according to the speakers. In resource-limited countries, efforts also need to focus on  ensuring adequate supplies/reagents, maintaining equipment/calibrations, and having electrical supply/backup generators, as well as retaining technical expertise and ongoing training and maintenance.

In the United States, tests such as interferon gamma release assays, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) polymerase chain reaction or rapid molecular drug resistance are routinely used to diagnose and manage TB in patients.

In developing countries, it’s a different story.

Treatment of active TB disease requires taking multiple drugs over prolonged periods of time and good infection control measures. “In developing countries, if testing is not available, treatment is empiric and the availability of drugs may be another issue, especially for drug-resistant Mtb strains,” said Wang and Balada-Llasat.

Due to the high cost of other tests and the lack of resources and infrastructure, acid fast bacteria smear is sometimes the only test –option available.

To find out more about the challenges associated with TB testing, don’t miss out on this informative session, worth 1.5 CE hours. This and more is taking place at the 69th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo July 30-Aug. 3 in San Diego.