Tuberculosis (TB)

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Tuberculosis (TB) facts

  • TB is an infectious disease that's transmitted from person to person.
  • There are many different types of TB.
  • A bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, causes the disease.
  • There are many risk factors for TB. Clinical symptoms and signs of pulmonary TB include fever, night sweats, cough, hemoptysis (coughing up blood-stained sputum), weight loss, fatigue, and chest pain.
  • Physicians definitively diagnose TB by culturing mycobacteria from sputum or biopsy specimens, but health-care professionals presumptively diagnose TB by history, physical exam, skin testing, and chest X-rays.
  • Treatment of TB infection is related to the type of TB infection and often requires extended treatments (months) with one or more anti-TB drugs.
  • Complications of TB range from none to death and include lung, kidney, and liver problems that can be severe.
  • The prognosis for appropriately treated TB infection is good. The prognosis declines in people who develop complications or who have had previous TB treatments.
  • Prevention of TB involves both early treatment to reduce transmission and isolation of the infected person until they are no longer contagious. There is a vaccine against TB, but it is not used routinely in the U.S. because of efficacy issues and other problems.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/8/2014

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Tuberculosis (TB) Diagnosis

Tuberculosis skin test facts

  • The tuberculosis skin test is also known as the tuberculin test or PPD test.
  • The PPD test is used to determine if someone has developed an immune response to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB).
  • The standard recommended tuberculin test is the Mantoux test, which is administered by injecting a 0.1 mL volume containing 5 TU (tuberculin units) PPD into the top layers of skin of the forearm.
  • Skin tests should be read 48-72 hours after the injection.
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