In addition to the many other vaccines, we all must take regularly, you may have heard of the TB test. You may have wondered what is a TB test. Briefly, it is a widely used test to protect the immune system from tuberculosis, which is a disease that attacks the lungs and is easily spread through the air. The vaccine, also known formerly as BCG or Bacille Calmette – Guerin, is a popular vaccine around the world but it does not completely protect patients from contracting tuberculosis. TB can affect parts of the brain, kidneys, spine and can cause death if left untreated. Now that we have your complete attention, we’ll go into more detail about TB, the difference between positive and negative TB skin test, and the TB blood test. We offer this vaccine as part of our catalog of immunizations for adults and adolescents. 

What is a TB test

First, let’s dig a little deeper into what TB is. Again, TB stands for tuberculosis. More specifically, tuberculosis is a severely contagious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The small lumps that appear are infected nodules, called tubercles. They develop as a result of the disease and can be found most often in the lungs. It is more common among individuals with immune system issues such as AIDS. Treatment of active tuberculosis is mandatory by law and is available to the public health system at no cost. Treatment usually involves antibiotics and vitamins over the course of six months. 

There are countless amounts of people exposed to TB but not all cases include infection or develop symptoms. Science has discovered that those individuals with a genetic disposition to TB are at a higher risk of developing it. Interestingly, this genetic region is also associated with leprosy. For this reason, getting a skin or blood TB test is crucial to protecting yourself from this damaging and fatal illness. However, both are not necessary.

  • TB skin test – This test requires two trips to your doctor. The first visit includes the injection of a small amount of tuberculin into the skin. Your return visit should be within 48 to 72 hours by a trained health care professional. The results are determined by the size of the skin after the injection is administered. A positive TB skin test is one where the patient’s body had a reaction to the injection with hard, raised, or swelling skin. Additional tests are required to determine whether the patient has latent TB infection or disease. A negative TB skin test is determined by the lack of a patient’s reaction to the vaccine. In these cases, TB is not likely. 
  • TB blood test – These blood tests are also referred to as interferon-gamma release assays or IGRAs. A positive blood test indicates a TB infection and other tests are needed to determine the extent. A negative blood test indicates that the patient’s blood did not react to the test and that TB is unlikely. Blood tests are preferred for patients that face challenges in return visits. 

What are TB symptoms

TB symptoms may vary but typically include fever, weakness, weight loss, chest pain, coughing, sickness, and coughing up blood. These symptoms are also determined by where the infection is located in the body. However, it is still highly contagious no matter where it infects the patient. It is easily spread by an infected patient coughing, sneezing, speaking, and even singing. Those who breathe the air around an infected person are more likely to get infected. This is also referred to as latent TB infection. Patients with latent TB infection are not sick and can’t spread the germs to others. Those who are sick are infected with active germs. 

Tuberculosis diagnosis

What to do now

Make an appointment today with MyCare Health Partners. This vaccine is essential for adults and adolescents alike. With our vast and high-quality network of health professionals, medical doctors, and medical facilities, you will be in great hands. While you’re here, we will make sure to take the time to assess your health needs and provide the appropriate care to increase your overall quality of life.