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The South Central Health District Tuberculosis Program provides case management for all clients identified with tuberculosis (TB). The SCHD TB program collaborates with hospitals and physicians to provide quality care and appropriate treatment regimens to all individuals with TB. Contact investigations are conducted in order to evaluate and provide care to persons who have been exposed to active TB disease. Educational trainings and workshops are made available upon request.
What is TB?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that usually affects the lungs. TB sometimes affects other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys, or spine. TB disease can cause death if untreated.
How is TB spread?
TB germs are spread from person to person through the air. These germs are spread when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, laughs, or sings.
What are the symptoms of TB?
- weight loss
- night sweats
- chest pain
- coughing up blood
- other symptoms depending on body part affected
What is the difference between TB disease and TB infection?
TB Infection, also known as LATENT TUBERCULOSIS INFECTION (LTBI):
- The person has NO SYMPTOMS.
- The person is NOT CONTAGIOUS.
- The TB Skin Test (also known as PPD) is POSITIVE.
- The Chest X-Ray is NORMAL.
- Sputum Smears are NEGATIVE.
- Sputum Cultures are NEGATIVE
- With LTBI TB germs are in the body but are sleeping or dormant.
- The person’s immune system is healthy.
- The immune system creates a hard shell around the TB germ and contains it.
- There is potential for the bacilli to become active, multiply and lead to TB disease at some point in the future.
- A person with LTBI cannot spread TB germs to other people.
- You DO NOT need to be tested if you have spent time with a person with LTBI.
- LTBI medication is started on persons who are at risk for developing TB Disease.
The decision to treat depends on several risk factors. These include people with HIV Infection, people who were recently exposed to someone with active TB Disease, and people with certain medical conditions. Routine treatment for LTBI consists of 9 months of Isoniazid (INH) or 4 months of daily Rifampin (if INH cannot be used).
ACTIVE TUBERCULOSIS DISEASE (TB)
- TB germs are in the body and GROWING.
- The Tuberculin Skin Test (PPD) is USUALLY POSITIVE.
- Chest X-Ray is USUALLY ABNORMAL
- Sputum Smears may be POSITIVE.
- Sputum Cultures are POSITIVE.
- The person has SYMPTOMS.
- The person may be CONTAGIOUS (before an adequate amount of TB medications are taken by the person).
- The person is considered to be an ACTIVE TB CASE.
- Active TB Disease is CURABLE.
The treatment for TB Disease is a 4-drug therapy that includes Isoniazid (INH), Rifampin (RIF), Pyrazinamide (PZA), and Ethambutol (EMB) for 2 months. After drug susceptibility is known the Doctor can drop the medication to INH and RIF for 4 months. A Physician who follows the TB person throughout his/her plan of care orders these medications. A healthcare worker from the Health Department delivers the TB medication to the person and watches the person swallow the medication. This is known as Directly Observed Therapy (DOT), which is the standard of care for the State of Georgia TB Program. TB is not a casual contact disease like the common cold. A person has to spend a lot of time with the person with active TB disease. You may get a Tuberculin Skin Test (PPD) from your doctor or the local Health Department if you have been around someone who has TB disease.
How Are TB Tests Given?
For a TB skin test, a health care worker uses a small needle to put some testing material, called tuberculin, just under the skin. This usually done on the lower inside part of the arm. After the test, the person must return in 2 to 3 days to see if there is a reaction to the test. If there is a reaction, the size of reaction is measured.
What Does a Positive Tuberculin Skin Test Mean?
A positive skin test usually means that a person has been infected with the TB germ. It does not necessarily mean that you have TB disease. Other tests, such as an x-ray and/or sputum samples, are needed to verify that a person has TB disease.
For more information, or to schedule a TB skin test, please contact your county health department.