Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by germs that affect the lungs but may attack other parts of the body such as the kidney, spine and brain.
TB is spread through the air from person to person. When someone with TB disease coughs or speaks, people nearby may breathe in the bacteria and become infected. TB cannot be spread through surface contact or sharing food and drink.
Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. This is known as latent TB infection. A person with latent TB infection has no symptoms and cannot spread TB bacteria to others. However, if untreated, the person risks developing TB disease in the future.
A recently infected person or someone with a weakened immune system may develop a large amount of TB bacteria in the body, which means the latent TB infection has progressed to TB disease. Some TB disease symptoms include:
- a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
- pain in the chest
- coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)
- weakness or fatigue
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
- unexplained fever
- sweating at night
If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.
Testing and Treatment
Our clinics have treatments available for both latent TB infection and TB disease. We administer a skin or blood test to determine the presence of TB infection. If positive, we will check for an abnormal chest x-ray or positive sputum smear or culture to see if it has progressed to TB disease.
It is very important to take TB medication as instructed to prevent TB infection from progressing into TB disease and to cure TB disease when it does arise. Our clinics provide Directly Observed Therapy (DOT), which is the standard tuberculosis program to ensure TB patients complete their treatment correctly. If you have TB disease and do not complete treatment correctly, you could become sick again and the TB bacteria could become resistant to medication.
The goal of public health departments like District 4 is to prevent and control Tuberculosis cases in our communities. We screen contacts of TB cases as well as high-risk populations. In 2018, there were 14 cases of TB in our 12 counties. It is our responsibility to ensure all cases are treated and monitored medically.
We also provide case finding and reporting using epidemiological principles to protect the health of the greater population. Our departments collect TB reports from physicians, hospitals and health care providers. These diligent control efforts are proven to decrease the number of TB cases in the United States.
- Tuberculin Skin Test (TST)
- QuantiFeron (QFT) (blood test)
- Chest X-rays and interpretations
- DOT monitoring
Our Tuberculosis Prevention program serves suspected cases, confirmed cases and contacts of confirmed cases of Tuberculosis. We provide these services at a sliding scale fee if you do not have insurance. Services are not denied due to inability to pay.