Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria and is a serious disease that affects the lungs. While Canada has one of the lowest infection rates globally, it is important to know when you might need a TB skin test (also known as a Tuberculin skin test).
In this article, we share who would need to be tested for TB, what you can expect when having this test done, and what the results will mean for you.
Who Needs a TB Skin Test?
You should be tested for TB if any of the following situations apply to you:
- You have been exposed to someone who is infected with TB. Depending on the time that has lapsed from the exposure, you may be required to undergo a second test 8-10 weeks later if the first result is negative.
- You have visited an area where TB is prevalent.
- You work in a healthcare facility or laboratory that deals with TB patients.
- You have HIV.
- You are about to undergo treatment that will compromise your immune system (for example, treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions).
What to Expect When Having a Tuberculin Skin Test
A trained healthcare practitioner will inject a small amount of a purified protein called Tuberculin into the skin on your forearm. This protein will react with your body and cause swelling. You will have to return to have the size of the swelling measured after 48 to 72 hours. Please note that after 72 hours, the test becomes invalid and must be repeated for an accurate result.
What Happens if the Test is Positive?
Your healthcare practitioner will explain your results in detail. In general, however, a negative result means you are not infected with the TB bacteria. A positive result means that you could have latent TB, or it could result from a TB vaccination. In either case, you will be referred to your general practitioner for further testing and treatment as required.
Contact Brintnell Pharmacy today to make an appointment. Our kind and caring staff will guide you through the process of having a TB skin test and explain everything in detail every step of the way.