Tuberculosis Bacilli (TB)

What is Tuberculosis (TB)?

TB is a contagious chronic infection of the lungs caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, fever, night sweats, loss of appetite, chest pain and cough.

How is it spread?

TB is spread through airborne particles when an infected person coughs, sneezes, spits, speaks, or sings. You may become infected and not even know it. Then years later your immune system becomes impaired and the disease may become active.

Why are TB skin tests (Mantoux test) done?

TB skins tests are done to determine if you have been exposed to infectious TB. The TB skin test is a “two-step” test (usually done during your preplacement health screening). One test is administered and after 48-72 hours you have it read by the Employee Health Nurse (this is your baseline test). The test is repeated on the other arm one week later.

Can I read my own test and call in my results?

Only Employee Health Nurses can read your tests as they are certified to do this.

When should my TB skin test be read?

The skin test MUST be read within 48-72 hours after it is administered. If it is not read within this time limit, a repeat test will be required.

What if my test is negative?

If you test is negative, no further action is needed until your next scheduled testing or following an exposure.

What if my test is positive?

If you initial test is positive, you will not have to have the second one done. Employee Health will send you to have a chest x-ray. You may have to visit your family physician for further evaluation and/or treatment.

How often must you be tested?

If you are a new employee and haven’t been tested in the last six months, you will be retested. If you work in an area where you could be contact with TB, then you would be tested annually.