Tuberculosis (TB) Testing

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and while most commonly found in the lungs, TB can attack any part of the body. TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria enter the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. Not everyone infected with TB will become sick.

TB is NOT spread by:

  • skin-to-skin contact (shaking hands)
  • sharing food or drink
  • touching items worn by someone with TB
  • sharing toothbrushes

Signs & Symptoms of TB

TB bacteria typically grows in the lungs and results in symptoms such as:

  • a severe cough that lasts longer than 3 weeks
  • pain in the chest
  • coughing up blood or sputum
  • weakness or fatigue
  • loss of appetite/weight loss
  • fever & chills
  • night sweats

Testing for TB

The most common way to test for TB is with a TB skin test. During the test a small amount of tuberculin fluid is injected under the skin on the inside of the arm. The person receiving the test returns 48-72 hours later to have the test read.

The health department offers TB testing by appointment. To schedule an appointment for a TB test, contact your local health department office. The cost for the test is $25.

Who Should Get Tested for TB?

You should have a TB test completed if you have spent time with a person who has active TB disease. You should also have a test completed if you:

  • are HIV positive or have another condition that weakens the immune system
  • have symptoms of active TB disease
  • are from a country where active TB disease is very common
  • live in a facility where active TB disease may be more common
  • inject illegal drugs
  • travel to a country with a high incidence of TB

For additional information regarding TB testing, please contact your local health department office or visit:

Centers for Disease Control