Tuberculosis (TB) Blood Test
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About Our Tuberculosis (TB) Blood Test
Content Updated 1/28/2019
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air. It usually affects the lungs, but sometimes also affects other parts of the body such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine. A person with TB can die from it if it is left untreated. Usually, when people are sick from active TB germs, the germs are multiplying and destroying tissue in the body. They normally experience symptoms. TB disease is contagious if it’s in the lungs or throat (which it usually is). When these results are taken to a doctor, they will be prescribed with treatment to cure TB.
What are the symptoms of Tuberculosis?
The following are some symptoms of TB disease, other potential symptoms depend on the body parts affected by the disease:
- Unintentional Weight Loss
- Night Sweats
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
Is Tuberculosis contagious?
Yes, it is. When a person with Tuberculosis disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, sings, or even just speak it puts out the TB germs into the air and risks other people around them.
These germs can stay in the air for several hours, but it all depends on the environment.
When people become infected by breathing the air containing the germs it is called “latent Tuberculosis infection.”
What TB test do we use?
There are two approved tests in the USA by the FDA.
One is the QuantiFERON - TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT-GIT), and the other is the T-spot TB test. We use the QFT-GIT test.
When you go in to one of our labs for testing, a technician will gather blood using a needle. From there, the blood is sent to a laboratory. Once there, the lab runs a test on the blood to see how the immune system reacts to the germs that cause TB.
What do the results of a Tuberculosis test mean?
A positive TB blood test means the person is infected with TB bacteria. A doctor will need to do additional tests to determine if it is a latent TB infection or TB disease.
A negative TB blood test means the blood did not react to the test and that latent TB and TB disease are not likely.
What is latent TB infection?
When people have Tuberculosis germs in their body but are not experiencing symptoms, it is often because the germs in their system are not active. Latent TB infection is not contagious, however, it can still develop into TB disease eventually. Because of this, treatment is often still done to prevent developing TB disease.
What do I do if I spent time with someone with a Tuberculosis Infection?
TB disease is most likely to spread to people who hang around the person infected a lot like family members or close friends. If you have been around someone who has TB disease, you should go to your doctor or your local health department to get tested.
Are there treatments for Tuberculosis available?
For people sick with TB disease, the treatment is usually several drugs for about 6 to 12 months. It is a treatment that must be followed carefully because if they stop taking the drugs too soon, the disease can pick up again. If they do not take the drugs correctly, the remaining germs may become resistant to the drugs and will become more difficult and expensive to cure.
It can be so difficult that at times that the staff of their health department will meet regularly with patients who have TB to watch them take their medications. This form of treatment is called “directly observed therapy” (DOT). DOT helps complete treatment with the patient in the most efficient amount of time.
How long should I wait before getting tested for TB?
There is no incubation period for Tuberculosis when using a blood test, so you don't not have to wait before getting tested using our method of testing. Please note that TB can take several weeks before creating a reaction to the skin test, however using a blood test, there is no incubation period.