Tuberculosis

Health Department staff provide consultation, testing, referrals and medication to patients. Call 610-344-6252 for more information, or to schedule an appointment.

Tuberculosis Statistics

- Rate per 100,000 population
Year United States Pennsylvania
Chester County
 2015 3.0 1.6 0.8
2014 2.9 1.6
1.2
2013 3.0
1.7
1.2
2012 3.2
1.8
1.4
What is Tuberculosis (TB)?
TB is a disease that is spread by tiny germs that can float in the air. The TB germs may spray into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, laughs, sings, or talks. Anyone nearby can breathe TB germs into their lungs. You cannot get TB from someone's clothes, drinking glass, handshake or toilet.

TB germs can live in your body without making you sick. This is called TB infection. Your immune system traps TB germs with special germ fighters. Your germ fighters keep TB germs from making you sick. If you have a weakened immune system, sometimes the germs will spread and can attack the lungs or other parts of the body such as the kidneys, brain or spine. TB is a very serious disease and requires medical treatment as it can be fatal if left untreated.
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What are the symptoms of TB?
General symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, fever, chills, and/or night sweats. 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. Other symptoms depend on the particular part of the body that has been 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 and TB blood tests. A skin test is performed by using a small needle to put some testing material, called turberculin, under the skin on your arm. In two or three days, a healthcare worker will check to see if there is a reaction to the test. The test is "positive" if a small bump appears on the arm. The bump means the person probably has TB infection. It does not necessarily mean that the person has TB disease.

What happens if the test is negative?
If the test is "negative," it usually means the person is not infected. However, the test may be falsely negative in a person who has recently been infected. It usually takes two to ten weeks after exposure to TB for the skin test to react positive. The test may also be falsely negative if the person's immune system is not working properly. A second test is recommended, just to be sure.

TB can be treated with a strict drug regimen. People who are diagnosed with TB need to be diligent about taking their medication as prescribed so they do not become sick again.

Where can I get tested?

The Health Department offers testing and treatment for TB - call 610.344.6252 for more information.

Links
What it Means to Have a Positive Tuberculin Skin Test
CDC - Questions and Answers About TB