What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. TB most commonly
affects the lungs but also can involve almost any organ of the body. Many years
ago, this disease was referred to as "consumption" because without effective treatment,
these patients often would waste away. Today, of course, tuberculosis usually can
be treated successfully with antibiotics.
What is PPD/tuberculosis testing?
Tuberculosis testing, also known as the PPD test, is a skin test used to determine
if someone has developed an immune response to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis
(TB). This response can occur if someone currently has TB, if they were exposed
to it in the past, or if they recently received the BCG vaccine against TB (which
is not performed in the U.S.) A positive response to a TB skin test does not mean
that you have active TB. Rather it means that you have been exposed to TB, and need
Take Care Health Providers will inject a small amount of fluid that contains components
of the TB organism under the skin. If a patient has been exposed to TB before or
has received the BCG vaccine, the patient will react to the injection by forming
a hard, raised area at the injection site.
The patient needs to return to the healthcare professional administering the test
48-72 hours after the injection, at which time the healthcare professional will
examine and measure the injection site to determine if the patient does or does
not test positively for tuberculosis. Patients will be sent for further evaluation
if a TB test comes back positive. Blood tests and x-rays are needed to confirm an
active infection. State regulations require healthcare providers report suspected
or diagnosed TB to state health departments.