Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. TB is spread by respiratory contact with an actively infected individual. Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection (LTBI) and TB disease. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.
To control the spread and occurrence of this illness, the Health District offers tuberculosis screenings and manages both preventative and active treatment through the TB Clinic.
Tuberculosis Screening Clinic
Current Clinic Hours: Mondays 8:00am – 11:00am and 12:00pm – 4:00pm. We are closed for lunch from 11:00am – 12:00pm.
Please bring photo ID and insurance information.
The Clark County Combined Health District offers IGRA (Quantiferon Gold) blood testing to those who need testing.
In systems where Ohio or other legislation do not dictate the method of tuberculosis screening, the agency may consider using a Tuberculosis Risk Assessment Questionnaire to identify persons at high risk of acquiring disease. These persons identified as high risk would then be recommended for the further screening. The Health District could assist in facilitating this process, or it could be completed independent of the Health District involvement. For more information and discussion about this process, please contact the Tuberculosis Program at (937) 390-5600.
IGRA (interferon-gamma (IFN-y) release assay) blood tests are available at CCCHD or at local laboratory companies with a physician or healthcare practitioner’s order. More information about the IGRA blood test is here. IGRA results take 5-7 days.
Persons who need testing and wish to have the test (IGRA) processed through their health insurance are encouraged to either:
- Work with their healthcare provider to get a prescription for an IGRA blood test to be drawn at any local laboratory, and have their results interpreted through their healthcare provider, or
- Present to the CCCHD Tuberculosis Clinic; we will draw the lab and send to to Pathology Laboratories for analysis and results. Your information will be provided to Pathology Laboratory for billing purposes.
*The test (IGRA) is available for $42 at CCCHD Tuberculosis Clinic if insurance is not utilized.
If you have requested that your IGRA results be emailed to you, please note that results take 5-7 days
TB bacteria can live in the body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection. In most people who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. People with latent TB infection:
- Have no symptoms
- Don’t feel sick
- Can’t spread TB bacteria to others
- Usually have a positive TB skin test reaction or positive TB blood test
- May develop TB disease if they do not receive treatment for latent TB infection
Many people who have latent TB infection never develop TB disease. In these people, the TB bacteria remain inactive for a lifetime without causing disease. But in other people, especially people who have a weak immune system, the bacteria become active, multiply, and cause TB disease.
A positive test for TB infection only tells that a person has been infected with TB germs. It does not tell whether or not the person has progressed to TB disease. Other tests, such as a chest x-ray and a sample of sputum, are needed to see whether the person has TB disease.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine. A person with Active Tuberculosis can die if they do not get treatment.
Symptoms of Active TB disease depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs (pulmonary TB). TB disease in the lungs may cause symptoms such as
- a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
- pain in the chest
- coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)
Other symptoms of TB disease are
- weakness or fatigue
- weight loss
- no appetite
- sweating at night
Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.
People who have latent TB infection
- do not feel sick,
- do not have any symptoms, and
- cannot spread TB to others.
Some people develop Active TB disease soon after becoming infected (within weeks) before their immune system can fight the TB bacteria. Other people may get sick years later, when their immune system becomes weak for another reason.
Overall, about 5 to 10% of infected persons who do not receive treatment for latent TB infection will develop TB disease at some time in their lives. For persons whose immune systems are weak, especially those with HIV infection, the risk of developing TB disease is much higher than for persons with normal immune systems.
Generally, persons at high risk for developing TB disease fall into two categories:
- Persons who have been recently infected with TB bacteria
- Persons with medical conditions that weaken the immune system
Persons who have been Recently Infected with TB Bacteria
This may include:
- Close contacts of a person with infectious TB disease
- Persons who have immigrated from areas of the world with high rates of TB
- Children less than 5 years of age who have a positive TB test
- Groups with high rates of TB transmission, such as homeless persons, injection drug users, and persons with HIV infection
- Persons who work or reside with people who are at high risk for TB in facilities or institutions such as hospitals, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and residential homes for those with HIV
Persons with Medical Conditions that Weaken the Immune System
Babies and young children often have weak immune systems. Other people can have weak immune systems, too, especially people with any of these conditions:
- HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS)
- Substance abuse
- Diabetes mellitus
- Severe kidney disease
- Low body weight
- Organ transplants
- Head and neck cancer
- Medical treatments such as corticosteroids or organ transplant
- Specialized treatment for rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease
Preventing Latent TB Infection from Progressing to TB Disease
If you have latent TB infection and you are in one of these high-risk groups, you should take medicine to keep from developing TB disease. There are several treatment options for latent TB infection. You and your health care provider must decide which treatment is best for you. If you take your medicine as instructed, it can keep you from developing TB disease. Because there are less bacteria, treatment for latent TB infection is much easier than treatment for TB disease. A person with TB disease has a large amount of TB bacteria in the body. Several drugs are needed to treat TB disease.
Preventing Exposure to TB Disease While Traveling Abroad
In many countries, TB is much more common than in the United States. Travelers should avoid close contact or prolonged time with known TB patients in crowded, enclosed environments (for example, clinics, hospitals, prisons, or homeless shelters).
Air travel itself carries a relatively low risk of infection with TB of any kind. Travelers who will be working in clinics, hospitals, or other health care settings where TB patients are likely to be encountered should consult infection control or occupational health experts. They should ask about administrative and environmental procedures for preventing exposure to TB. Once those procedures are implemented, additional measures could include using personal respiratory protective devices.
Travelers who anticipate possible prolonged exposure to people with TB (for example, those who expect to come in contact routinely with clinic, hospital, prison, or homeless shelter populations) should have a TB skin test or a TB blood test before leaving the United States. If the test reaction is negative, they should have a repeat test 8 to 10 weeks after returning to the United States. Additionally, annual testing may be recommended for those who anticipate repeated or prolonged exposure or an extended stay over a period of years. Because people with HIV infection are more likely to have an impaired response to TB tests, travelers who are HIV positive should tell their physicians about their HIV infection status.
Tuberculosis is a serious health threat, especially for people living with HIV. People living with HIV are more likely than others to become sick with TB. Worldwide, TB is one of the leading causes of death among people living with HIV.
Without treatment, as with other opportunistic infections, HIV and TB can work together to shorten lifespan.
- Someone with untreated latent TB infection and HIV infection is much more likely to develop TB disease during his or her lifetime than someone without HIV infection.
- Among people with latent TB infection, HIV infection is the strongest known risk factor for progressing to TB disease.
- A person who has both HIV infection and TB disease has an AIDS-defining condition.
People infected with HIV who also have either latent TB infection or TB disease can be effectively treated. The first step is to ensure that people living with HIV are tested for TB infection. If found to have TB infection, further tests are needed to rule out TB disease. The next step is to start treatment for latent TB infection or TB disease based on test results.
Untreated latent TB infection can quickly progress to TB disease in people living with HIV since the immune system is already weakened. And without treatment, TB disease can progress from sickness to death.
Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options for people living with HIV who also have either latent TB infection or TB disease.
Nursing Phone: 937-390-5600
Secure Nursing Fax: 937-390-5626
Shaiann Ferguson (x281)