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Tuberculosis

Risk of being around person tested positive

02/27/2008

Question:

Will be staying with an elderly family member for a few days who has recently tested positive to TB skin test.  Does this present any risk to ourselves and us being around our son`s premature infant recently home from the hospital?

Answer:

A positive tuberculosis skin test means that the immune system recognized the TB infection. In most cases this means that the individual has been in contact with TB in the past. To determine if there is any risk of active the infection the individual should have a chest xray and a physician visit to be certain that there are no symptoms of active TB. The vast majority of persons with a positive TB skin test do not have active tuberculosis and it is perfectly safe to be around them, even for a premature baby.

The symptoms of active TB include: cough for more than 3-4 weeks, unexplained wt loss, unexplained fever and night sweats for more than 3 weeks, coughing up blood.

If your relative has had a recent normal chest xray (ie within 3 months), and does not have any of the above symptoms then there is no problem being around them for you or the baby.

For more information:

Go to the Tuberculosis health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Catherine A Curley, MD, MS Catherine A Curley, MD, MS
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University