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Diagnosis & Treatment

Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease. It chiefly impacts the lungs though it can affect other parts of the body. This infection can be partially prevented through vaccination. While treatable, tuberculosis—which is often called “TB”—has historically been a leading cause of death worldwide and remains a serious public health concern in other parts of the world outside of the United States. In 2014, approximately 1.5 million people died from TB, and over 95% of these deaths occurred in developing countries.

Risk Factors for Developing TB Disease

Between 5% and 10% of people who are infected with the TB bacteria end up developing the disease at some point in life. People with weakened immune systems—in particular, people with HIV—are at a much higher risk.

Other conditions that weaken the immune system include:

  • HIV
  • Silicosis
  • Drug abuse
  • Kidney disease
  • Head / neck cancer
  • Certain medical treatments and therapies including organ transplant patients and those using corticosteroids
  • Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis / Crohn’s disease
  • Diabetes
  • Underweight

Diagnosis of TB

You may need to get tested for TB in order to travel or for other reasons. There are two basic types of TB tests:

  • TB skin tests (TST)
  • TB blood tests

These tests reveal if you have been infected with the TB bacteria, and will not tell you if you have a latent TB infection (LTBI) or full-blown TB disease. Follow up tests would be required for this information. Contact Washington Township Medical Foundation to set up an appointment with your internist in Fremont.

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