Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease that most commonly infects the lungs. TB is spread through droplet infection - germs are spread into the air from sneezing, coughing, or even laughing. Worldwide, one or more people are infected with TB each second, and someone dies of TB every 10 seconds. A person who develops TB may become very sick but with proper treatment, TB is almost always curable.
Services available from your Health Department
Florida Department of Health in Jefferson County provides skin testing for TB infection, medication for the disease or infection, and case management services, including monthly blood and vision tests, for those cases who have active TB disease. These services are available Monday through Friday during normal clinic hours.
Signs and Symptoms of Active TB Disease
Here are several common symptoms of active TB disease:
- cough lasting longer than three (3) weeks
- shortness of breath
- substantial weight loss
- "night sweats"
TB Skin Tests
Anyone may be tested for TB, including adults, children, pregnant women, people with colds, and people who have had the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine. Skin tests cost $10, and are free to those who have had contact with a documented active TB case. After skin testing, you must return to the Health Department for a reading in 48 to 72 hours. The skin test area will be examined by a nurse, and a referral will be made if needed.
Treatment of TB Disease
TB is treated with a number of special antibiotics given over six to twelve months. The TB germs are very strong and slow to be killed. It is very important that persons infected with TB follow the medication schedule closely. Failure to follow the medication schedule could result in a more serious "drug resistant" TB condition.
To be treated by the Florida Department of Health in Jefferson County, have your private physician submit a referral. Our Health Department staff will order the needed medications, chest x-rays, and arrange for "directly observed therapy", which is making sure TB patients take their medicine by having a staff member observe them either at the patient's home or at the health clinic.