What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, laughs or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.
If you have a weakened immune system, sometimes the TB bacteria will spread and can attack the lungs or other parts of the body such as the kidneys, brain or spine. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal but TB is curable and preventable.
However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. This is called TB infection (also called Latent Tuberculosis Infection or LTBI). People with TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms and cannot spread TB to others.
What are the symptoms of TB disease?
General symptoms may include fever, chills, night sweats, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss. Symptoms of TB of the lungs may include a bad cough that lasts longer than three weeks, chest pain and/or coughing up blood. Other symptoms depend on the particular part of the body that is affected.
How do I know if I have TB infection?
There are two kinds of tests that are used to detect TB bacteria in the body: the TB skin test (Tuberculin Skin Test also known as a TST) and TB blood tests. The TB blood test is now the recommended test.
Where can I get tested?
The TB tests can be administered or ordered by your Primary Care Physician. (PCP). The Health Department offers Tuberculin Skin Testing (TST) by appointment only and for a fee at our Immunization clinics. Doylestown office call 215-345-3344. Levittown office call 267-580-3510.
More information on Tuberculosis can be found on the CDC website.
- CDC Fact Sheet on Testing for Tuberculosis (pdf)
- CDC Testing for Tuberculosis Infection
- CDC Tuberculosis Elimination
- CDC Latent Tuberculosis Infection Resources
- CDC Tuberculosis Espanol