Tuberculosis Screening: Understanding the Tests and Results
What is tuberculosis screening? Tuberculosis (TB) screening is the process of testing for TB infection. TB is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body.
Why is TB screening important? TB screening is important because it can help detect TB infection early when it is most treatable. Early detection and treatment can also prevent the spread of TB to others.
Types of TB screening tests
- TB Skin Test (TST)
- A small amount of fluid (called tuberculin) is injected under the skin.
- A person’s skin is checked for a reaction 48 to 72 hours later.
- If there is a raised, hard area, it may mean that the person has been infected with TB.
- Interferon-Gamma Release Assays (IGRA)
- A blood test that measures the immune system’s response to TB antigens.
- Results are typically available within 24 hours
- IGRA tests are not recommended for children younger than 5 years old and people who are immunocompromised
Interpreting the test results
- A positive TB test result means a person has been infected with TB. But it does not mean that the person has active TB disease.
- A person with a positive test result will need further testing, such as a chest x-ray or a sample of sputum, to determine if they have active TB disease.
- A negative TB test result means that a person does not have a TB infection or that their immune system has not reacted to the TB antigens.
It is important to note that TB screening is not a substitute for a diagnosis of active TB disease. A person with symptoms of active TB disease should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
Risks and Limitations of TB screening
- TB skin test can give false-positive results in people who have been vaccinated with the BCG vaccine
- IGRA tests are not as sensitive as TST in detecting latent TB infection in people who are HIV-positive or have other immune-compromising conditions.
Who should be screened for TB?
- People who have been in close contact with someone who has active TB disease
- People who have recently traveled to a country with a high TB incidence rate
- People who live or work in a high-risk setting, such as a homeless shelter, correctional facility, or long-term care facility
- People who have certain medical conditions that increase their risk of TB, such as HIV infection or diabetes
Frequently Asked Questions about Tuberculosis Screening
1. What is the difference between the TB skin test and the IGRA test?
The TB skin test (TST) is a skin test that uses a small amount of fluid (tuberculin) injected under the skin. The Interferon-Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) is a blood test that measures the immune system’s response to TB antigens.
2. Can I get TB from the TB skin test?
No, The TB skin test uses a small amount of fluid (tuberculin) that cannot give you TB.
3. How long does it take to get the results of a TB test?
The results of a TB skin test (TST) are usually available within 48 to 72 hours. IGRA test results are typically available within 24 hours
4. Can I have a false-positive TB test result?
Yes, a false-positive TB test result can occur in people who have been vaccinated with the BCG vaccine or in people with certain medical conditions that can cause a reaction to the TB antigens.
5. What should I do if my TB test is positive?
If your TB test is positive, you will need further testing to determine if you have active TB disease. This may include a chest x-ray or a sample of sputum. A healthcare provider will discuss the next steps with you.
6. What are the risks of not getting screened for TB?
Not getting screened for TB can lead to the progression of TB infection to active TB disease and can increase the risk of spreading the infection to others.
7. Can I spread TB to others if I have a positive TB test but no symptoms?
A person with a positive TB test but no symptoms of active TB disease is not considered to be contagious. However, they may still have latent TB infection, and it is important to receive appropriate treatment to prevent the progression to active TB disease.
8. How often should I be screened for TB?
The frequency of TB screening depends on the individual’s risk factors and the results of previous screenings. In general, people who are at high risk for TB should be screened at least once a year.
9. Can TB screening be done at home?
TB screening can be done at home with a self-administered TB skin test. However, it is important to follow the instructions carefully and to have the test read by a healthcare provider within 48-72 hours.
10. Can TB be cured?
Yes, TB can be cured with a combination of antibiotics. Treatment typically lasts 6-9 months, and it is important to take all of the medication as prescribed to prevent the development of drug-resistant TB.
TB screening is an important tool in the early detection and prevention of TB. It is important to discuss any concerns or questions about TB screening with a healthcare provider and to be aware of the different types of TB screening tests, the interpretation of test results, and the risks and limitations of the tests.
TB screening is an important tool in the early detection and prevention of TB. It is important to discuss any concerns or questions about TB screening with a healthcare provider.
Why use TGH Urgent Care for TB Screening
Tuberculosis (TB) screening is an important aspect of healthcare, and at TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we understand the importance of timely and accurate testing. That’s why we offer TB screening at our walk-in clinics, using a system that allows you to get in line before you get there called “On my way”, to make it easy for individuals to get tested quickly at any of our over 15+ locations.
In addition to the convenience factor, our walk-in clinics are staffed by experienced healthcare professionals who are trained to administer and interpret TB screening tests. These professionals are able to provide accurate and timely results, ensuring that individuals receive the appropriate follow-up care if necessary.
At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we use TB skin tests (TST) and Interferon-Gamma Release Assays (IGRA) to screen for TB. This allows for flexibility in testing and ensures that we are able to accommodate the unique needs and preferences of each individual. Our healthcare professionals will discuss with you the pros and cons of each test and help you decide which one to take.
In addition, our walk-in clinics are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and follow strict infection control protocols to ensure the safety of both patients and staff.
In conclusion, TGH Urgent Care’s walk-in clinics are a convenient and reliable option for TB screening. With the “On my way,” system, over 15+ locations, and experienced healthcare professionals, we are committed to providing accurate and timely TB screening to keep our communities safe.