Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious disease that can harm the lungs or other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys or spine.
TB is spread through the air when someone who is sick with TB disease of the lungs coughs, sneezes, sings or speaks. Others can become infected by breathing the germs into their lungs.
People who are infected with TB usually have had close contact with a person who is sick with TB disease. Family members, roommates, friends or close co-workers of people with TB disease are more likely to become infected. This is because they spend a lot of time in closed spaces (such as homes or offices) together.
TB is NOT spread by shaking hands, kissing, sex, sharing glasses, plates, utensils, clothing, sheets or furniture. TB cannot spread through the air outside.
There are medications to treat TB. TB can kill you if it is not treated.
Who needs a tuberculosis test?
- People who have recently arrived from a part of the world where TB is common (Asia, Africa, Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe)
- People who are planning to spend more than 3 months in one of the areas of the world listed above. They should be tested before leaving on their trip and after returning.
- People who live or work in long term care or adult day care facilities
- People who the Health Department has determined to be in close contact with someone who has active TB disease
- People living with HIV/AIDS
- People who use street drugs
- Homeless people and staff who work in homeless shelters
- Inmates and people who work in jails.
There are two tests that show if someone is infected with TB:
- TB skin test: For this test a small amount of test fluid is injected under the skin on the lower part of the arm. A trained health care worker must look at your arm for a reaction within 48 to 72 hours. Health care providers use this test most often.
- TB blood test: For this test, blood is drawn from the arm to measure the way the immune system reacts to TB bacteria.
Where can I get a TB skin test?
Most primary care physicians' offices and urgent care clinics do TB testing.
How much are TB services at the Public Health Center in Raleigh?
- TB risk assessment: $15
- TB risk assessment for people with a positive skin test in the past: $25
Please plan to pay on the day we provide the service. Please bring your insurance card as some part of your service may be covered. We cannot accept Medicaid or Medicare for TB services.
What does it mean to have a positive TB skin test?
A positive TB skin test tells you if you have been exposed to TB germs. It does not tell you whether you are sick with active TB disease. If you have a positive TB skin test, you will need to have other tests done, like a chest X-ray and a sputum (mucus) sample to find out whether you have active TB disease.
Can I get a TB skin test if I had BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) vaccine?
Yes, people who have been vaccinated with BCG can still be given a TB skin test. BCG is a vaccine used to prevent TB disease in many countries. It is not generally recommended in the United States.
What are the symptoms of TB?
TB symptoms may include:
- a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer
- pain in the chest
- coughing up blood or sputum
- weakness or fatigue
- weight loss
- no appetite
- sweating at night
Is there treatment for exposure to TB germs (also called latent TB infection or LTBI)?
Yes, if you have been exposed to TB (LTBI) you can take drugs that make it less likely for you to get sick with active TB disease. TB drugs are given at no cost to you.
Is there treatment for active TB disease?
Yes, active TB disease can be cured by taking several drugs for six to 12 months. Public Health Center staff will meet with you often to make sure you are taking your drugs correctly and that you are not having any problems. TB drugs are given at no cost to you