Tuberculosis Skin Testing (TB)
Kathe C. Lardiere, RN, MSN
Director of Public Health Nursing, 732.341.9700, ext. 7301
Patricia High, MHS, MCHES
Supervising Program Analyst, 732.341.9700, ext. 7605,
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that can damage a person's lungs or other parts of the body and can cause serious illness. TB is spread when people who have active, untreated TB germs in their lungs or throat cough or sneeze, sending their germs into the air. People who breathe these germs into their lungs can become infected.
People who breathe in TB germs usually have had very close, day-to-day contact with someone who has the disease. That's why most people get TB germs from someone they spend a lot of time with, like a family member, friend, or close co-worker.
You're not likely to get TB from someone coughing in the subway or at a restaurant. TB is not spread by sharing dishes, utensils, sheets, clothing, or other inanimate objects.
What does it mean to have latent TB infection?
Latent TB infection means that the TB germs are in the body but are not active. When a person inhales TB germs, in most cases, body defenses control the germs by building a wall around them the way a scab forms over a cut. The germs can stay inside these walls for years, alive but not active.
While TB germs are not active, they can't do damage, and they can't spread to other people. This person is infected, but NOT sick. He or she probably won't even know that he or she is infected. Millions of Americans have latent TB infection. For most of them, the germs will never become active.
What is active TB disease?
Tuberculosis disease is a serious illness caused by active TB germs. It is possible to get TB disease shortly after the germs enter the body if body defenses are weak. It is also possible, even after many years, for inactive TB germs to become active when body defenses are weakened. This may be the result of aging, a serious illness, drug or alcohol abuse, or HIV infection.
When defenses are weakened and inactive TB germs become active, the germs can then break out of the walls, begin multiplying, and damage the lungs or other organs.
The TB Skin Test (“Mantoux”)
You should receive a TB skin test if you have:
• Symptoms of active TB
• Spent a long time with someone who has active TB disease (a family member, friend, or co-worker)
• HIV infection, lowered immunity, or certain medical conditions such as diabetes or chronic kidney failure
• Worked or lived in a homeless shelter, prison, or other group setting
• Come to the U.S. recently from a country with a lot of TB
The tuberculin Mantoux skin test shows if a person has been infected with the TB germ. If you test positive for the TB germ, a chest x-ray is taken to see if any illness appears in the lungs. If you have a positive TB skin test and the chest x-ray (CXR) is clear of illness, you are considered to have latent TB infection (LTBI) and may be offered treatment to prevent the development of active TB disease. If you have a positive TB skin test and the chest x-ray shows signs of damage in your lungs, you may be referred to a hospital to determine if you have active TB disease.
There is an ongoing national shortage of tuberculin skin test (TST) antigens in the United States. In accordance with recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Jersey State Department of Health, the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) is not able to provide TB skin testing for the general public at this time.
The OCHD has the ability to continue testing those individuals at highest risk for the development of active TB disease, including contacts to suspected or confirmed TB cases and recent immigrants referred by the CDC for evaluation.
The Tuberculosis Skin Test (TST) Clinics are held at the Ocean County Health Department at 175 Sunset Avneue,Toms River. Visit information:
• TST Clinic: $20.00 fee for public and $5.00 fee for children
• TST Clinic: First and second Wednesday of the month from 8:30am – 11:00am
• TST Clinic: Third Monday of the month from 5:30pm – 8:30pm
• TST Clinic: Third Wednesday of the month from 1:00pm – 3:00pm
• TST Clinic: The results of all TSTs require a second visit 2 days laterto have the results read in accordance with the times the nurse provides
• CXR Clinic: First Wednesday of the month from 9:00am – 11:00am
• CXR Clinic: Second Wednesday of the month from 9:00am – 11:00am
• CXR Clinic: Third Wednesday of the month from 1:00pm – 3:00pm
• Appointments are needed for all TB clinics
Call 732-341-9700 ext. 7604 to schedule an appointment for a TB skin test or for more information about any of our services.
For additional information about tuberculosis, online resources include:
Basic information (link to CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/tb/topic/basics/default.htm)
Fact Sheets (link to CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/tb/publications/factsheets/default.htm)
Tuberculosis in NJ (link to NJDHSS at http://www.state.nj.us/health/tb/index.shtml)