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Think, Test, Treat: Protect Yourself from Tuberculosis

Did you know that Tuberculosis (TB), one of the world’s leading infectious disease killers, can hide in plain sight?

The bacteria responsible for causing TB can live in the body for years without symptoms. This is called inactive TB or latent TB infection. Without treatment, inactive TB can become an active TB disease at any time and make you sick. Once TB becomes active, it can spread from person to person through the air.

World TB Day on Sunday is a great opportunity to protect yourself from TB by following three simple steps: Think, Test, and Treat TB.

Think: Am I at risk for TB infection?

While anyone can get TB, certain people can have a higher risk if they:

  • Were born in or frequently travel to countries where TB is common, including those in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
  • Live or used to live in large group settings where TB is more common, such as homeless shelters, prisons, or jails.
  • Recently spent time with someone who has active TB disease.
  • Have a weaker immune system because of certain medications or health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and HIV.
  • Work in places with high risk for TB transmission, such as hospitals, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and nursing homes.

Test: What TB test is needed?

If you fall under any of the categories above, it is recommended that you test yourself. There are two different types of tests:

  • TB blood test: The blood test measures how your immune system reacts to the germs that cause TB. If you have ever received a vaccine for TB, your healthcare provider will recommend that you have the TB blood test.
  • TB skin test: For the skin test, a small needle is used to put some testing material under the skin. You will need to return to your healthcare provider in 2-3 days to see if there is a reaction.

TB Skin testing is offered Monday, Tuesday, and Friday by appointment or during our walk-in hours Monday and Friday 8-11:30 a.m. and Tuesday 1-4:30 p.m. at 40 Coxe Avenue in downtown Asheville. To make an appointment, call (828) 250-5096. Appointments are confidential and low-cost.

Treat: What are the treatment options?

If you have inactive TB, treating it is the best way to protect you from getting sick with active TB disease. There are several short and convenient treatment options available. Without treatment, 1 in 10 people with inactive TB will get sick in the future. More than 80% of people who get sick with active TB disease in the United States each year get sick from long-standing, untreated inactive TB, which can develop into active TB disease years or even decades later.

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Updated Mar 22, 2024 02:24 PM
Published Mar 22, 2024 01:00 PM

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