Should You Take A TB Test?

Have you ever been tested for tuberculosis (TB)?

tuberculosis bacteria

TB typically spreads through the air when someone infected speaks, sneezes, or coughs. It generally damages the lungs but can also attack other body parts.

While TB doesn’t seem to be much of an issue in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world, it turns out that “up to 13 million people in the United States have latent TB infection.” And in 2017, 9,015 cases of tuberculosis were reported, where reports came from every single state.

So while “the world’s leading infectious disease killer” has become 1.6 percent less prevalent from 2016 to 2017, it still remains a serious concern.

Who Should be Tested for Tuberculosis?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some people are at a higher risk of becoming infected with TB than others:

  • People from countries with a high-rate of TB
  • Health-care workers
  • People at settings that are at high-risk
  • People who spend time with TB-infected individuals
  • Youth exposed to adults with a high-risk of TB or latent TB

Latent TB

Latent TB may technically be safe as it may stay latent forever. But that’s not the case for everybody, says the CDC. In fact, “more than 80% of U.S. TB cases are associated with reactivation of longstanding, untreated latent TB infection.” And some people are at a higher risk of having their latent TB develop into TB disease.

Of particular concern for seniors is the higher risk that they face in this domain, and the fact that a weaker immune system, which can happen due to other diseases, is another risk factor.

So should you take a TB test just because you’re older? You’d have to ask your doctor, but at least you can make an informed decision.

Have you gotten a TB test?

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