TB Testing

About Tuberculosis
  • If a child lives with a person who has tuberculosis and is unable to take antibiotics or has a strain of the disease that is highly resistant to antibiotics, it is recommended that the child receive the TB vaccine. Our clinic offers this immunization, which can be administered to infants as young as six months old. It's a simple way to protect children from contracting tuberculosis in high-risk situations.
  • TB germs are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. These germs can stay in the air for several hours, depending on the environment. People who breathe in the air containing these TB germs can become infected; this is called TB infection (also known as latent TB infection). If untreated, TB infection can become TB disease.

    The Difference Between TB Infection and TB Disease

    People with TB infection have TB germs in their bodies, but they are not sick because the germs are not active. These people do not have symptoms of TB disease and they cannot spread the germs to others. However, they may develop TB disease in the future. They are often prescribed treatment to prevent them from developing TB disease.


    What are the symptoms of TB?

    The general symptoms of TB disease include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. The symptoms of TB disease of the lungs also include coughing, chest pain, and the coughing up of blood. Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.


    How do I get tested for TB?

    There are two tests that can be used to help detect TB infection:

    • A skin test
    • TB blood test.


    The Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST) is performed by injecting a small amount of fluid into the skin in the lower part of the arm. A person given the TST must return within 48 to 72 hours to have a health care worker look for a reaction on the arm; this must be done in-person. This type of testing is only done in our TB clinic for children under age 2. All other ages above 2 will receive a TB blood test.

    The TB blood test, known as the Interferon Gamma Release Assay (IGRA), T-SPOT®.TB test measures how the patient’s immune system reacts to the germs that cause TB when present.

    A positive TST or blood test only tells you if you have TB germs in your body. Other tests may be needed to tell if you have TB disease, such as a chest x-ray (CXR) and other laboratory testing of sputum.


    Why is TB infection treated?

    If you have TB infection but not TB disease, your doctor may want you to take a drug to kill the TB germs and prevent you from developing TB disease.


    How is TB disease treated?
    • TB disease can be treated by taking multiple drugs for several months, generally 6 to 12 months. It is very important that people who have TB disease finish the medicine, and take the drugs exactly as prescribed. If they stop taking the drugs too soon, they can become sick again; if they do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs. TB that is resistant to drugs is harder to treat.
    • DSHS provides TB medications to public health clinics across Texas. These clinics treat patients with TB disease.
    For Schools: Do all new students in Texas schools still need a tuberculin skin test?
    • No, a tuberculosis questionnaire has been developed by Texas Department of State Health Services to identify children at high risk for TB infection. School districts use the TB questionnaire to identify children who should receive a TB skin test prior to school entry.
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that physicians routinely assess a child’s risk of TB exposure with a questionnaire and offer tuberculin skin testing only to at-risk children. The AAP does not recommend routine tuberculin skin testing of children with no TB risk factors for school entry, day care attendance, WIC eligibility, or camp attendance.


    General Reporting Requirements
    • Both TB infection and TB disease are Notifiable Conditions reportable to the local or regional health department TB Programs. Reporting details can be found on the DSHS website, which include reporting forms.
    • Tuberculosis Infection- Reportable within one week to the local or regional health department.
    • TB Disease or Suspicion of TB Disease- Reportable within one working day.


    Targeted TB Testing

    TB screening program that serve high-risk groups.


    Tuberculosis Contact Screening

    TB testing for identified individuals who recently spent time in an enclosed area with a person suspected of having tuberculosis (TB) disease.