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A TB skin test or a blood test with QuantiFERON TB Gold ® or T-Spot®.TB is the only way to find out if you have TB infection. You can get a skin test at the health department or at your doctor's office. You should get tested for TB if:
A health care worker can give you the TB skin test. He or she will inject a small amount of testing fluid (called tuberculin) just under the skin on the lower part of your arm. After 2 or 3 days, the health care worker will measure your reaction to the test. You may have a small bump where the tuberculin was injected. The health care worker will tell you if your reaction to the test is positive or negative. A positive reaction usually means that you have TB infection.
If you have a positive reaction to the skin test, your doctor or nurse may do other tests to see if you have TB disease. These tests usually include a chest x-ray. Because the TB bacteria may be found somewhere besides your lungs, your doctor or nurse may check your blood or urine, or do other tests. If you have TB disease, you will need to take medicine to cure the disease.
If you have recently spent time with someone with infectious TB, your skin test reaction may not be positive yet. You may need a second skin test 10 to 12 weeks after the last time you spent time with the infectious person. This is because it can take several weeks after infection for your immune system to be able to react to the TB skin test. If your reaction to the second test is negative, you probably do not have TB infection.
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