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The tuberculosis skin test (also known as the tuberculin test or PPD test) is a 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 received the BCG vaccine against TB (which is not performed in the U.S.). The World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion people worldwide have latent TB, while around 3 million people worldwide die of TB each year.
The tuberculin skin test is based on the fact that infection with M. tuberculosis bacterium produces a delayed-type hypersensitivity skin reaction to certain components of the bacterium.
The standard recommended tuberculin test, known as the Mantoux test, is administered by injecting a 0.1 mL volume containing 5 TU (tuberculin units) PPD into the top layers of skin (intradermally, immediately under the surface of the skin) of the forearm. The use of a skin area that is free of abnormalities and away from veins is recommended.
At One Care Medical we take tuberculosis skin testing very seriously. We order our testing materials directly from the manufacturer to ensure freshness and a high-quality, accurate test. To provide a nearly painless experience, we use a tiny needle. Our sterile injection supplies and techniques greatly reduce the risk of infection or complications.
Once the injection has been placed, the patient has to return within 2-3 days to have the injection examined and read. We will provide any necessary paperwork to document your TB test on the second visit.
The price for the TB test is $40. Additionally, if you have had a positive TB test in the past, we can help you get a chest x-ray.
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When most people here tuberculosis, or TB for short, they think of an infectious disease of days gone by. Who has TB nowadays? The fact is, TB is still common, even today.
TB is caused from tainted bacteria in humans that in most cases settles in and pollutes the lungs, although TB can affect other organs of the body. Similar to the common cold, TB is an airborne bacteria spread when infected people cough, sneeze or spit near others.
The reason you do not hear about people contracting TB like they did years ago is more than likely because of the advances in medicine and the ability to fight the infectious bacteria with strong antibiotics, which were not available during the 18th and 19th centuries when TB was more prevalent.
Another aside, TB usually remains dormant. Today when someone is infected it rarely turns into a full blown case. But if the disease does progress, without seeking medical attention it can turn into a fatality. Statistics state that “if left untreated,” TB kills “more than 50% of its victims.”
So how do you detect tuberculosis in you or someone else? The signs are very similar to the common flu—cough, fever, night sweats, but the two symptoms that set TB apart from the common flu—the cough turns chronic, continual hacking, and eventually the sputum from the cough is infused with blood. Soon weight loss follows and the victim more or less wastes away from cough and loss of blood being spewed from the lungs. TB is a hideous disease. Even today it is estimated that one third of the world’s population could be infected.
If you or someone you know has any of the above symptoms there are tests performed that can easily detect the disease. Orange County has a number of competent clinics. Simply make an appointment and ask the receptionist about a TB test.
Why you may ask is it important to have a TB test—if you suspect you or someone you know of having TB it could prove fatal. If the infection spreads to any of the other organs besides the lungs it can cause even more fatal symptoms turning into disease such as cirrhosis of the liver or eventual kidney failure.
Common tests to determine a positive diagnosis include proof from x-rays; the tuberculin skin test, which is commonly used for people that work in the medical field, like the hospital or nursing home; blood tests; and microscopic and bodily fluid examination.
Once a positive diagnosis is made, treatment can prove to be arduous. TB is not an easy infectious disease to rid the body of. It requires long courses of potent antibiotics. The reason multiple antibiotics are used is because the TB strain is a resilient one.
Because TB is so resilient people are urged to acquire flu shots every year, especially for those who are high risk, children, pregnant women and people who work in the health care sector.
TB prevention in Orange County has always relied on vigilant programs such as those taken at the hospitals and nursing homes for their employees and vaccination drives for the Orange County general public to ward off the effects of a full blown flu or, worse, TB epidemic.
Normally the TB skin test is not used, similar to the flu shot, as a general population prevention measure, but it is encouraged for those Orange County men and women who work at jobs considered high-risk for exposure to have regular testing done. The occupations considered high-risk for exposure include hospital, nursing home, airport employees, school and correctional facility employees.
If you or someone you know has a disease or condition that causes the immune system to deteriorate such as AIDS and/or HIV, along with their caretaker, you too are encouraged to confide in your doctor and have regular TB skin testing done.
In addition to the obvious, the world traveler should also have regular TB skin tests performed. Here in Orange County, near one of the busiest airports in the world, people are continuously flying in and out of the country. World travelers who work, visit and/or live in the area should also seek a clinic in Orange County to have regular TB screening. The cost is affordable and the peace of mind is worth knowing that you have not contracted tuberculosis, a deadly, horrific disease when left uncontrolled.
Most commonly, the TB skin test is done when children first start school or when an adult begins a new job or when a woman first becomes pregnant, since mothers can pass TB to their unborn children.
The reason Orange County residents should have the TB skin test performed at any one of the areas first-rate health clinics is to help determine dormant TB infection and/or active disease.
If your test results from the TB skin test come back as positive, your doctor will schedule additional tests such as chest x-rays and examination of bodily fluid cultures to confirm the diagnosis.
When your Doctor Suspects the Worst
TB is relatively easy to catch since it is passed airborne from a sneeze or a cough. If your doctor knows that you live with or work around someone who has an active case of TB or you or someone with whom you live has been out of the country living in an area where TB is common, your Orange County physician, to be on the safe side, will order the skin test to check for TB, either dormant or active.
In most cases, a healthcare worker will interpret your test results in 48 or 72 hours after the injection. If a noticeable red circle has formed at the injection site, the test would be considered positive. There are a few factors to consider however that your Orange County health professional will look for in particular before determining a positive result and that would be the actual size of the circle, how swollen it is and the health status and age of the individual.
If your doctor does determine that your TB is positive, he or she will have to determine if it is a latent or active TB infection.
If you do have tuberculosis, do not panic. Orange County is home to many competent physicians who will oversee your health and your future health regimen. It should be noted that once it has been determined that you have TB, it can be controlled. You and your Orange County health care provider will work together so that you can live with TB and continue to live a long and healthy existence. You will simply have to learn how to keep your immunity from running down through diet and exercise and other good choices that your doctor will help you to oversee.
TB can lie dormant but unfortunately once you have contracted it, your PPD reaction will usually