Since 1993, tuberculosis (TB) case rates have been declining in both New York State and the United States. While the decrease in TB is encouraging, TB is still a concern. Students enrolling in any Health Professions program are required to have testing for exposure to tuberculosis. (For information on TB testing visit PubMed Health.)
The Orange County Health Department holds free, walk-in (no appointment needed) TB Clinics several times monthly. Services include PPD testing, consultations, chest x-rays, and tuberculosis treatment. For specific dates and times visit TB Clinics.
Here are some common questions about TB. If you have more questions after you read this talk to your health care provider or contact the TB Clinics at:
- Middletown (845) 346-1113
- Newburgh (845) 568-5333
You may also speak with a nurse in the Wellness Center at (845) 341-4870
What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease usually affecting the lungs (pulmonary TB). Other parts of the body can also be affected, for example lymph nodes, kidneys, bones, joints, etc. (extrapulmonary TB). Approximately 1,300 cases are reported each year in New York State.
Who gets tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis can affect anyone of any age. People with weakened immune systems are at increased risk.
How is tuberculosis spread?
Tuberculosis is spread through the air when a person with untreated pulmonary TB coughs or sneezes. Prolonged exposure to a person with untreated TB usually is necessary for infection to occur.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of TB include a low-grade fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss, and a persistent cough. Some people may not have obvious symptoms. Most people infected with the bacteria that causes TB never develop active TB. If active TB does develop, it can occur two to three months after infection or years later. The risk of active disease lessens as time passes.
What is the treatment for tuberculosis?
People with latent TB infection (those carrying the virus but not sick) should be evaluated for a course of preventive therapy, which usually includes taking anti-tuberculosis medication for several months. People with active TB disease ( those sick and able to spread the bacteria to people they spend time with every day) must complete a course of treatment for six months or more. Initial treatment includes at least four anti-TB drugs, and medications may be altered based on laboratory test results. The exact medication plan must be determined by a physician. Directly observed therapy (DOT) programs are recommended for all TB patients to help them complete their therapy.
What can be the effect of not being treated for tuberculosis?
In addition to spreading the disease to others, an untreated person may become severely ill or die.
What can be done to prevent the spread of tuberculosis?
The most important way to stop the spread of tuberculosis is for TB patients to cover the mouth and nose when coughing, and to take all the TB medicine exactly as prescribed by the physician.
For more information on TB, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's TB web pages or the New York State Department of Health's Fact Sheet.