A skin test is the only way to tell if you have TB infection.
"TB" is short for tuberculosis. TB is spread by tiny germs
that can float in the air. TB germs may spray into the air if a person
with TB disease coughs or sneezes. Anyone nearby can breathe TB germs
into their lungs.
TB germs can stay in your body without making you sick.
This is called TB infection. For most people, the body's immune system
traps the TB germs.
But sometimes the TB germs can break away. Then they
cause TB disease. The TB germs can attack the lungs or other parts
of the body. If you have TB infection, you may need medicine that
helps you and other people from getting sick with TB.
The TB skin test is usually done on your arm. A small
needle is used to put some testing material, called tuberculin, under
your skin. In two or three days, a health worker will check to see
if there is a reaction to the test.
The TB skin test doesn't make you get TB. It is not
a vaccine that prevents TB, like a flu shot helps prevent influenza.
But it helps you find out if you have TB infection. Then you and your
doctor can help you and other people from getting sick with TB.
The TB skin test is positive if a bump about the size
of a pencil eraser or bigger appears on your arm. This bump means
you probably have TB infection. Your doctor will give you other tests
such as a chest x-ray to make sure you do not have TB disease. You
may need medicine to keep you and other people from getting sick.
If you got the BGG vaccine - which is given in some
countries but not usually given in the U.S. - you may have a positive
reaction to the TB skin test.
If you have HIV infection (the AIDS virus), or other
conditions that make the body's immune system not work well, your
body may not react to a TB skin test. Your doctor may give you other
tests. Also, if you got TB infection very recently, you may not yet
react to the TB skin test. Your doctor may give you other tests.
Tell the doctor or health worker if you have ever had
a positive reaction to a TB skin test or if you have been given TB
Everyone should have a TB skin test at least once and
should know whether the reaction was positive or negative. You should
also be tested if there is any chance you have been infected with
TB germs --- recently or many years ago.
You should be tested more often if you are at high risk
of TB infection.
If you have HIV infection, it is very important to get
tested for TB infection at least once a year.
Other people at high risk include: people with medical
conditions that increase the risk of TB (such as diabetes, the dust
disease silicosis, or people undergoing treatment with drugs that
affect the body's immune system, such as long-term use of corticosteroids);
people from countries with high TB rates; people who do not get medical
care, especially in low-income communities; people who work in or
are residents of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes,
prisons and some hospitals; people who are very underweight; alcoholics
and intravenous drug users.
People who are sick with symptoms that can mean TB disease
should see a doctor now. These symptoms may include: feeling tired
or weak all the time; weight loss; fever; night sweats; long-term
cough; chest pain; coughing up blood.
Phone: (815) 740-4420
Fax: (815) 740-4424
503 Ella Avenue
Joliet, Illinois 60433