How To Get A Tb Test

How To Get A TB Test

Getting a TB (tuberculosis) test is an important step in ensuring public health and safety. The TB skin test, also known as the Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST), is a common method used to detect TB infection. If you are in need of a TB test, it is essential to understand the process, where to get tested, and what the results mean. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to get a TB test and what to expect.

Administering the TB skin test

The TB skin test involves two visits to a healthcare provider. During the first visit, a small amount of fluid called tuberculin is injected into the skin on the lower part of the arm. The second visit, which must take place within 48 to 72 hours, is when a trained healthcare worker examines the arm for a reaction. The size of the raised, hard area or swelling determines the result of the test.

It is important to note that the TB skin test is the preferred method for testing children under the age of five.

Reading the result of a TB skin test

A positive skin test indicates that the person’s body has been infected with TB bacteria. Additional tests are required to determine if the infection is latent or if it has progressed to TB disease. On the other hand, a negative skin test suggests that the person’s body did not react to the test, making latent TB infection or TB disease unlikely. It is also possible to repeat the TB skin test, with the additional test placed in a different location on the body if needed.

Check if you need a TB test for your visa application

If you are planning to travel to the UK for 6 months or more, or have lived in specific countries for an extended period, a TB test may be a requirement for your visa application. The test typically involves a chest x-ray to check for TB, and in some cases, a sputum sample may be requested if the x-ray results are inconclusive.

Who does not need to be tested

There are certain exemptions from the TB test requirement, including diplomats accredited to the UK, returning UK residents who have not been away for more than 2 years, and individuals coming to the UK on specific support schemes.

Children and pregnant women who need a TB test

Children must be assessed by a clinician to determine if a chest x-ray is necessary. Pregnant women have the option of choosing an x-ray with extra shielding in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, a sputum test, or waiting until after delivery for testing.

For the General Public

Understanding TB, its symptoms, and how it spreads is crucial for public awareness. TB is a disease caused by germs that can affect various parts of the body, with the lungs being the most common site. Symptoms include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. TB germs spread through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings, and can lead to TB infection or TB disease.

How do I get tested for TB?

There are two primary tests used to detect TB infection: the tuberculin skin test (TST) and the TB blood test (IGRA). The TST involves injecting a small amount of fluid into the skin and then having a healthcare worker examine the arm for a reaction. The TB blood test measures the body’s immune system response to TB germs. These tests are available through primary care providers, local clinics, pharmacies, and health departments.

For Health Care Professionals

Healthcare professionals play a critical role in TB screening and testing. Recommendations for screening health care personnel (HCP) for tuberculosis upon hire include a single blood test or a two-step tuberculin skin test, an individual risk assessment, and a signs and symptoms screening assessment. Annual testing is not routinely recommended, but periodic screening and symptom assessments may be considered based on local epidemiology and risk factors.

TB and COVID-19

There are questions about the similarities in symptoms between COVID-19 and TB, as well as recommendations regarding TB screening in persons recently vaccinated against COVID-19. It is important to stay informed about the latest guidelines and recommendations from health authorities.

General Reporting Requirements

Understanding how to report tuberculosis screening results is essential for healthcare facilities and professionals. Proper documentation and reporting ensure that individuals receive the necessary follow-up care and treatment.

Recommendations for TB Screening of Adults and Children in Various Settings

Specific recommendations for TB screening in various settings, such as schools, correctional facilities, and other care centers, are important for ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals in those environments. These guidelines help in identifying and addressing potential TB risks.

Other Resources

Accessing additional resources and information about tuberculosis is valuable for healthcare professionals and the general public. Staying informed about the latest developments and best practices is essential for effective TB management and prevention.


1. How often can TSTs be repeated?

There is generally no risk associated with repeated tuberculin skin test placements. If a person does not return within 48-72 hours for a tuberculin skin test reading, a second test can be placed as soon as possible. There is no contraindication to repeating the TST, unless a previous TST was associated with a severe reaction.

2. What does a positive TB test mean?

A positive TST or blood test indicates the presence of TB germs in the body. However, it does not determine whether the person has TB infection or TB disease. Additional tests, such as a chest x-ray and sputum testing, are needed to make that determination.

3. Can I get vaccinated for TB?

While there is a vaccine for TB (BCG), it is not generally recommended for use in the United States. The vaccine is used in countries with high rates of TB to protect infants and young children from severe forms of the disease.

4. How is TB disease treated?

TB disease is treated with multiple drugs over several months, typically 6 to 12 months. It is crucial for individuals with TB disease to complete the full course of medication as prescribed to prevent the development of drug-resistant TB.

5. Are correctional facilities in Texas required to screen inmates and employees for TB?

Yes, correctional facilities in Texas are required to screen inmates and employees for TB to prevent the spread of the disease within the facility.

6. Are there general recommendations about which adults should and should not be screened for TB in Texas, and how to screen them?

General recommendations for TB screening in Texas are based on individual risk factors and exposure history. Screening methods include the tuberculin skin test and the TB blood test, with considerations for age, health status, and other relevant factors.

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