Tuberculosis and TB testing
Welcome to the tuberculosis section of the Washington Travel Clinic website. This page contains valuable information on TB and how to test for it.
TB testing is available at the Washington Travel Clinic. The cost for the TB skin test (also known as PPD) is $50. There is no additional charge for the visit, and if the test is positive, Dr. Akl will provide you with counseling, refer you to have a chest X-ray done, review the X-ray result, and provide you with the necessary reports, at no extra charge.
In some cases, a blood test is performed in lieu of the skin test or in addition to it. It measures how a person’s system reacts to the germs that cause TB. It is especially useful if you received the BCG vaccine in the past or if there is reason to suspect that a positive skin test is caused by other bacteria than TB. The Washington Travel Clinic can collect the blood sample and sends it to a designated lab.
TB is short for a disease called tuberculosis. TB is spread through the air from one person to another. TB germs are passed through the air when someone who is sick with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, speaks, laughs, sings, or sneezes. Anyone near the sick person can breathe TB germs into their lungs.
TB germs can live in your body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection. This means you have only inactive (sleeping) TB germs in your body. The inactive germs cannot be passed on to anyone else. However, if these germs wake up or become active in your body and multiply, you will get sick with TB disease.
When TB germs are active (multiplying in your body), this is called TB disease. These germs usually attack the lungs. They can also attack other parts of the body, such as the kidneys, brain or spine. TB disease will make you sick. People with TB disease in the lungs may spread the germs to people they spend time with every day.
If you have been around someone who has TB disease, you should go to your doctor or your local health department for tests.
There are two main tests that can be used to help detect TB.
A skin test (known as tuberculin skin test, PPD test, or Mantoux test*) is usually done on the arm. A thin needle is used to place the testing material, called tuberculin, under the skin. In 2-3 days, you return to the doctor who will check your arm to see if there is a reaction to the test.
In some cases, a blood test is performed. It measures how a person’s system reacts to the germs that cause TB. It is especially useful if you received the BCG vaccine in the past or if there is reason to suspect that a positive skin test is caused by other bacteria than TB.
*The tine test, which relied on pricking the skin with testing material, is no longer recommended for use.