Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. TB most commonly affects the lungs but also can involve almost any organ of the body. Many years ago, this disease was referred to as "consumption" because without effective treatment, these patients often would waste away. Today, tuberculosis usually can be treated successfully with a medication regimen.
People with tuberculosis may experience symptoms similar to the flu, or no symptoms at all, in the early stages. Advanced symptoms include weight loss, chronic fatigue and heavy sweating, especially at night. In the later stages, people with tuberculosis can develop a cough with mucus that becomes progressively thick, bloody or yellow, chest pain, shortness of breath and possibly red or cloudy urine.
Tuberculosis testing, also known as the PPD test, is a skin test used to determine if someone has developed an immune response to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). This response can occur if someone currently has TB, if they were exposed to it in the past, or if they recently received the BCG vaccine against TB (which is not performed in the U.S.) A positive response to a TB skin test does not mean that you have active TB. Rather it means that you have been exposed to TB and need further evaluation.
A TB test is performed by injecting a small amount of fluid that contains components of the TB organism under the skin. If a patient has been exposed to TB before or has received the BCG vaccine, the patient will react to the injection by forming a hard, raised area at the injection site.
The patient needs to return to the healthcare provider administering the test 48-72 hours after the injection, at which time the healthcare provider will examine and measure the injection site to determine if the patient does or does not test positively for exposure to tuberculosis. Further evaluation is needed if a TB test shows a positive reaction. Blood tests and x-rays are needed to confirm an active infection. State regulations require healthcare providers report suspected or diagnosed TB to state health departments.
This test is available at Healthcare Clinic locations for patients 18 months and older.
If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.