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Tuberculosis is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is spread through the air and usually affects the lungs. It may also spread to the spine or kidneys. In the U.S., TB has largely been eradicated but testing is indicated for some people.
Types of TB Tests
There are two types of tuberculosis tests – the TB skin test and TB blood test. To determine which test to use, should consider the reason for testing, test availability and cost. It is not recommended to use both.
TB Skin Test
The Mantoux tuberculosis skin test (TST), it is the most common indicator, especially for kids under 5. It requires one doctor visit to do the test and a second to read it two to four days later. The size of a raised, hard area at the test site indicates whether a person was exposed to the bacteria. If positive, additional tests will be ordered to determine if the person has latent TB infection or the more serious TB disease. A negative skin test means there was no TB bacteria detected in the body and infection is unlikely.
What About People Who Have Had BCG Vaccines?
Many people born outside of the United States have been BCG-vaccinated. If that includes you or your child, a skin TB test could give a false positive result. A positive reaction may be caused by the vaccine itself or by an actual infection. Let your primary care doctor know if you had a BCG.
Who Should Get a TB Test?
People who have traveled to a country where the bacteria is prevalent may want to get tested. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans, the homeless and incarcerated individuals are at greater risk.
Worried about TB exposure? You don’t have to wait. Call our practice and schedule an appointment. It’s easy to get in – sometimes on the same day you call!