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TB is a preventable disease, even in those who have been exposed to an infected person. Skin testing (PPD) for TB is used in high-risk populations or in people who may have been exposed to TB, such as health care workers.
A positive skin test indicates TB exposure and an inactive infection. Discuss preventive therapy with your doctor. People who have been exposed to TB should be skin tested immediately and have a follow-up test at a later date, if the first test is negative.
Prompt treatment is extremely important in controlling the spread of TB from those who have active TB disease to those who have never been infected with TB.
Some countries with a high incidence of TB give people a vaccination (called BCG) to prevent TB. However, the effectiveness of this vaccine is controversial, and it is not routinely used in the United States.
People who have had BCG may still be skin tested for TB. Discuss the test results (if positive) with your doctor.
Barr WG, Harrington JT, Flaherty JP. Mycobacterial infections of bones and joints. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Harris ED, McInnes IB, Ruddy S, Sargent JS, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 101.
Fitzgerald DW, Sterling TR, Haas DW. Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolan R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Orlando, FL: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 250.
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