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Boynton Health Service
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Tuberculosis

What is TB?
Am I at Risk?
Screening and Vaccination
Signs and Symptoms
What do I do if I have symptoms of TB?
Treatment
Contact Us

What is TB?

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that is present in one-third of the world's population. Tuberculosis infection may lead to tuberculosis disease which can cause significant illness and even death. The information on this page is intended to help you understand TB, your risks for developing the disease and how to seek screening and treatment if necessary.

Click to view larger image
Click to view larger image.

Tuberculosis, also called TB, is a disease caused by bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis. It usually affects the lungs but can affect other parts of the body such as the brain, spine and kidneys. There are 2 forms of tuberculosis:

Tuberculosis disease, which occurs when the bacteria are multiplying and overcoming the body's immune system, causing active symptoms and requiring treatment to prevent serious illness or death.

Tuberculosis infection, which occurs when the bacteria are in the body but not growing and multiplying. The body's natural immune system is preventing the infection from developing into tuberculosis disease.

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Am I at Risk?

You are at higher risk for developing TB if you have emigrated from areas of the world with high rates of TB.


You are also at higher risk if you have had close contact with a person with TB disease. This includes living with a relative who has had the disease.

Other persons at increased risk for TB are:


If you have concerns about your risk for developing TB and would like to be tested, please call the Boynton Appointment Line at (612) 625-3222. Identify yourself as an international student wanting to be tested for TB. You will meet with a nurse who will discuss your risks with you and apply the test.

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Screening and Vaccination

There are two ways to test for TB:

  1. TST (Tuberculin skin test): This test is done by injecting a solution beneath the skin to detect TB antibodies. The solution is applied and then the test is read 48-72 later.

  2. IGRA: This test is done by drawing a sample of blood and testing it for TB antibodies.


Bacillus Calmette-Guèrin (BCG) vaccine is often given to infants and children in countries where TB is common. The vaccine does not give lifelong immunity to the disease. It can cause an increase in the reaction to a TST but the reaction size for a positive TST is larger than the reaction size from BCG. Therefore, a positive TST cannot be ruled out as a reaction to BCG without further testing. TB blood tests are not affected by prior BCG vaccination.

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Signs and Symptoms

Only TB disease (not TB infection) has signs and symptoms and can be transmitted to other people. Signs and symptoms of TB disease include:


TB disease that is in the lungs is spread through the air by coughing, sneezing or speaking. It cannot be spread by touching someone, shaking hands, sharing objects or kissing. Active TB disease that is in other parts of the body, such as the spine or kidneys is not as infectious but may move to the lungs and spread through the air

TB infection has no signs and symptoms and cannot be transmitted to others. However, it could develop into TB disease. If this happens, the patient experiences signs and symptoms and can pass the disease to others.

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What do I do if I have symptoms of TB?

If you are experiencing symptoms and you think they are consistent with TB, you should follow these steps:

If Boynton is closed, go to the nearest Emergency Room (usually Fairview University Medical Center). Tell the health care provider about your symptoms and that you are concerned they might be tuberculosis.

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Treatment

TB disease is treated with several medications: INH, Rifampin (RIF), ethambutol, pyrazinamide. Type and length of treatment depend of extent and nature of the disease.

TB infection is treated with a drug called Isoniazid (INH) for 9 months to kill the bacteria and prevent progression to active TB. INH is a powerful medication so it is important to be monitored closely while taking it. It must be taken on a very regular and reliable schedule with strict adherence. You will need to meet with a nurse monthly who will review symptoms and check for side effects of this medication. It is very important to follow all the medication education and follow up with this medicine.

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Contact Us

If you have concerns about your risk for developing TB and would like to be tested, please call the Boynton Appointment Line at (612) 625-3222. Identify yourself as an international student wanting to be tested for TB. You will meet with a nurse who will discuss your risks with you and apply the test.

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More Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Q&A
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Testing
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Treatment
Minnesota Department of Health

 




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TB Tests at Boynton

If you have concerns about your risk for developing TB and would like to be tested, please call the Boynton Appointment Line at (612) 625-3222. Identify yourself as an international student wanting to be tested for TB. You will meet with a nurse who will discuss your risks with you and apply the test.