Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious disease that can harm the lungs or other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys or spine. 

TB is spread through the air when someone who is sick with TB disease of the lungs coughs, sneezes, sings or speaks. Others can become infected by breathing the germs into their lungs. 

People who are infected with TB usually have had close contact with a person who is sick with TB disease. Family members, roommates, friends or close co-workers of people with TB disease are more likely to become infected. This is because they spend a lot of time in closed spaces (such as homes or offices) together. 

TB is NOT spread by shaking hands, kissing, sex, sharing glasses, plates, utensils, clothing, sheets or furniture. TB cannot spread through the air outside. 

There are medications to treat TB. TB can kill you if it is not treated. 

Who needs a tuberculosis test?

  • People who have recently arrived from a part of the world where TB is common (Asia, Africa, Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe) 
  • People who are planning to spend more than 3 months in one of the areas of the world listed above. They should be tested before leaving on their trip and after returning. 
  • People who live or work in long term care or adult day care facilities 
  • People who the Health Department has determined to be in close contact with someone who has active TB disease 
  • People living with HIV/AIDS 
  • People who use street drugs 
  • Homeless people and staff who work in homeless shelters 
  • Inmates and people who work in jails. 

There are two tests that show if someone is infected with TB: 

  • TB skin test: For this test a small amount of test fluid is injected under the skin on the lower part of the arm. A trained health care worker must look at your arm for a reaction within 48 to 72 hours. Health care providers use this test most often. 
  • TB blood test: For this test, blood is drawn from the arm to measure the way the immune system reacts to TB bacteria. 

Where can I get a TB skin test?

Wake County Human Services' Public Health Center, most primary care physicians' offices and Urgent Care Clinics do TB testing. 

When can I get a TB skin test at the Public Health Center in Raleigh?

The TB Clinic schedule has temporarily changed due to COVID-19. If you need a skin test, please call the TB Clinic at 919-250-3898. 

TB skin tests are given by appointment only in Clinic E on: 

  • Mondays, 8:30–11 a.m. and 1–4 p.m. 
  • Tuesdays, 8:30–11 a.m. and 1–4 p.m. 
  • Wednesdays, 8:30–11 a.m. 
  • Fridays, 8:30–11 a.m. and 1–4 p.m. 
  • No TB skin testing on Thursdays! 

TB skin tests are read in Clinic E on: 

  • Mondays, 8:30–11 a.m. and 1–4 p.m. 
  • Wednesdays, 8:30–11 a.m. 
  • Thursdays, 8:30–11 a.m. and 1–4 p.m. 
  • Fridays, 8:30–11 a.m. and 1–4 p.m. 

Call 919-250-3898 to make an appointment. If you are more than 15 minutes late, we may have to reschedule your appointment. 

How much are TB services at the Public Health Center in Raleigh?

  • TB risk assessment​: $15​ 
  • TB risk assessment with skin testing: $40 
  • TB risk assessment for people with a positive skin test in the past​: ​$25 
  • Fee for extra forms​: $10 

Please plan to pay on the day we provide the service. Please bring your insurance card as some part of your service may be covered. We cannot accept Medicaid or Medicare for TB services. 

What does it mean to have a positive TB skin test?

A positive TB skin test tells you if you have been exposed to TB germs. It does not tell you whether you are sick with active TB disease. If you have a positive TB skin test, you will need to have other tests done, like a chest X-ray and a sputum (mucus) sample to find out whether you have active TB disease. 

Can I get a TB skin test if I had BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) vaccine?

Yes, people who have been vaccinated with BCG can still be given a TB skin test. BCG is a vaccine used to prevent TB disease in many countries. It is not generally recommended in the United States. 

Where can I get the QuantiFERON®-TB Gold blood test?

Right now, Wake County Human Services Public Health Center is not doing the QuantiFERON®-TB Gold blood test (FDA approved in 2005). We can, however, write a prescription for you to get the blood test done through Lab Corps or you can go to your primary care physician. 

What are the symptoms of TB?

TB symptoms may include: 

  • a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer 
  • pain in the chest 
  • coughing up blood or sputum 
  • weakness or fatigue 
  • weight loss 
  • no appetite 
  • chills 
  • fever 
  • sweating at night 

Is there treatment for exposure to TB germs (also called latent TB infection or LTBI)?

Yes, if you have been exposed to TB (LTBI) you can take drugs that make it less likely for you to get sick with active TB disease. TB drugs are given at no cost to you. 

Is there treatment for active TB disease?

Yes, active TB disease can be cured by taking several drugs for six to 12 months. Public Health Center staff will meet with you often to make sure you are taking your drugs correctly and that you are not having any problems. TB drugs are given at no cost to you 

Educational Materials

More information