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TB Testing

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TB or Tuberculosis is a potentially serious bacterial infection that is most often found in the lungs. The bacterium that causes TB is transmitted through the air, and therefore, can be very contagious. However, TB testing is only done for people who are considered “high risk” for contracting the disease.


These people include:

  • People with diseases or conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV or AIDS, which makes them more vulnerable to a TB infection
  • Those who are in confined living conditions such as homeless shelters, migrant farm camps, nursing homes, schools, and correctional facilities
  • Healthcare workers and others whose occupations bring them in close contact with those who may have active TB
  • Those who have been in close contact with someone who has an active case of TB
  • People who have signs and symptoms consistent with active tuberculosis
  • Those who come from or have lived for a period of time in a foreign country where TB may be more common
  • Those who inject illegal drugs

Also, in the state of Arizona, TB testing is required if you are arrested for DUI.


There are two different ways to screen for TB. One is the skin test, and the other is the interferon gamma release assay (IGRA) test.

The skin test is the most commonly performed, and involves two steps: the injection of a small amount of purified protein derivative (PPD) solution under the first layer of skin of the forearm and an evaluation of the injection site conducted by a health practitioner at 48 and/or 72 hours to see if a local skin reaction has occurred.

All laboratories do not perform the IGRA test. This test measures the release of a substance called gamma interferon by white blood cells in a sample of blood when the cells are exposed to specific TB antigens. The test requires viable white blood cells, so the IGRA blood sample must be received and tested by a laboratory within a designated window of time.


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