What to expect at a TB Skin Test

What to expect at a TB Skin Test

In the 1800s, TB was a common disease in Canada and the leading cause of death. People with TB were isolated in TB sanitariums. The declining rates of TB did not begin until the 1950s when antibiotics were developed to treat TB.

At present, TB is not a major threat in Canada. At 4.9 cases per 100,000 population, Canada has among the lowest rates of active TB in the world. Indigenous people and foreign-born individuals are most likely to have active TB. Moreover, healthcare workers are at a higher risk of being exposed to people who have undiagnosed active TB.

In most cases, a person with TB infection does not show symptoms at first but develops them after the bacteria have become active. Symptoms of active bacterial infection may include night sweats, persistent cough, loss of appetite, unusual weight loss, fever, general fatigue, etc. As TB progresses, a person may cough up blood.

The Mantoux tuberculin skin test, sometimes referred to as a skin test for TB, may seem a bit intimidating, but it is quite straightforward. There are two parts to the TB skin test. As part of the first test, a doctor injects someone with a sterile solution that contains tuberculin. Tuberculin is a protein fraction isolated from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. An individual with TB will react to the tuberculin given in the TB skin test if their immune system is compromised. Normally, the injection is administered inside the forearm. It creates a small, pale-colored bump known as a wheal when performed correctly. 

Approximately 48-72 hours after tuberculin injection, the second stage of diagnosis begins. The doctor will check the skin to see what has happened to the wheal. The process will have to be restarted if the patient does not attend this appointment. The doctor will examine how the body has responded to the injected tuberculin at this appointment. In order to do so, the doctor measures the width of the wheal on the forearm and asks questions about the individual’s medical history and environment.

Students and employees are often required to undergo TB skin tests. This type of certification is usually required for personnel working in correctional facilities, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. Those working in health care and other fields who care for individuals at risk of TB infection usually have to undergo this screening.

SanoMed Medical Clinic in Downtown Toronto accepts walk-ins and all types of health insurance for TB skin test. If you don’t have a health card, no worries! We accept cash too. Book an appointment online today!

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