Occupational Health & Infectious Disease
Risk Management, Portland, OR 5/1/13
What is TB and how is it spread?
TB is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria that infects your lungs. It enters the body when you inhale invisible droplets released into the air that may come from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
TB is NOT spread by:
- Shaking someone’s hand
- Sharing food or drink
- Touching bed linens or toilet seats
- Sharing toothbrushes
Get tested regularly!
The most common test used is called a PPD tuberculin skin test. A small amount of liquid is placed under the top layer of skin on the forearm. After 48 hours, a health care professional will check the injection site for swelling. A hard, raised bump would be indication for the doctor to send you for a chest x-ray to check for active TB infection in the lungs.
Not everyone who becomes infected gets sick. When this happens it is called latent TB. A person with latent TB has no signs or symptoms of the disease and is not contagious. When tested, a person with latent TB will show signs of a positive skin test and be sent for an x-ray of the chest. There will be no evidence of active infection in the chest x-ray of a person who has latent TB.
Signs & Symptoms
- A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
- Pain in the chest
- Coughing up blood
- No appetite
- Weight loss
- Fever, chills, sweating
- Weakened immune system (caused by other diseases such as HIV or diabetes)
- International connections (traveling to countries with high rates of active TB)
- Poverty and substance abuse
- Where you work or live (healthcare professionals or living in a shelter)
If you feel you have been exposed to a person who may have an active TB infection, contact your health care provider or local health department right away. The testing for TB is quick and easy and if necessary, preventative treatment can be started.
Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Tuberculosis. http://www.mayoclinic.com/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Tuberculosis. http://www.cdc.gov/