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Infectious Diseases

TB

03/03/2003

Question:

A FRIEND OF MINE WENT TO THE HOSPITAL 03/01/03 HE THOUGHT HE MIGHT HAVE BRONCHITIS OR PNEUMONIA. THEY DID A CHEST XRAY AND ADMITTED HIM. THE DOCTOR SAID LOOKING AT THE CHEST XRAY IT LOOK`S LIKE TB. THEY DID A SKIN TEST AND SPUTUM TEST THEY SAID IT WOULD TAKE ABOUT 3-DAYS TO KNOW FOR SURE. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IS THE MEDICINE USED TODAY FOR TB SUCCESSFUL. HE IS 36 YRS. OLD, ONCE ON MEDICATION IS TB STILL CONTAGIOUS? WHAT SHOULD I BE AWARE OF . I WOULD APPRECIATE IN HEARING FROM YOU. THANK YOU!!

Answer:

Yes, the medicines used for tuberculosis today are highly (>95%) likely to cure the infection, assuming the tuberculosis bacteria is susceptible to them. Drug-resistant TB is a problem in some parts of the world, but recently has not been a rising problem in the U.S. Your friend`s doctor will be able to say whether your friend is likely to have TB or not within a few days, but if it is TB, it will be several weeks before the drug sensitivity tests are completed. It also may be a few weeks after your friend is on medications before he is no longer infectious. There is no single test that determines whether or not someone is infectious, so your friend`s doctor will have to make his or her best judgment of the time when it will be safe for your friend to go back to work, etc. (assuming your friend has TB) based on future sputum specimen results and how your friend is doing otherwise. You may be asked by the TB Control Clinic in your county to have skin testing done to see if you are infected. If you have any questions, you should call them or ask your doctor. 

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Response by:

Lisa A Haglund, MD Lisa A Haglund, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati