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Tuberculosis Control

Epidemiology

Tuberculosis Control
3920 Michigan Avenue
Fort Myers, FL 33916
239-332-9529

The Tuberculosis (TB) Control Program is responsible for identifying and treating all active cases of TB. We are also responsible for testing and offering treatment to those who may have been exposed to an active case of TB.

What is TB?

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that can be spread from person-to-person through airborne transmission. It is spread when an infectious individuals expels germs into the air by coughing, sneezing, or laughing. Those with close, prolonged contact with an infected person have the highest risk of exposure.
The disease usually affects the lungs, but other parts of the body can be infected in cases of extra-pulmonary TB. Symptoms of TB include weakness, fever, fatigue, cough, coughing up blood, chest pain, night sweats, and/or weight loss.

TB disease vs. TB infection

People with active TB disease are infected individuals who are sick with symptoms and are infectious to others. Precautions must be taken so that they do not spread the disease. Active TB disease can be treated with a variety of medications.

Some individuals are infected with the TB organism but are not sick with disease. This is often referred to as latent TB infection. Individuals with latent TB infection were exposed to the germ at some point, but the infection is not active inside the body. These individuals are not infectious to others, but the infection can turn into active TB disease if the immune system is challenged. Latent TB infection can be treated with medication and is recommended for high-risk groups (see below).

High risk groups for TB include:

  • People who share the same breathing space (such as family members, friends, co-workers) with someone who has TB disease
  • Homeless people
  • Foreign-born people form countries where a lot of people have TB
  • Prisoners
  • Alcoholics and intravenous drug users (IVDUs)
  • People with medical conditions such as diabetes, certain types of cancers, and being underweight
  • People with HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS)
TB Testing

The TB testing process begins with a tuberculosis skin test. A positive skin test does not necessarily mean you have active TB disease. It simply means that you were exposed to the TB germ at some point. Those with a positive skin test should then undergo further testing to see if there is active disease. This may include a chest x-ray to look for abnormalities in the lungs sputum (phlegm) testing, or other tests depending on the presence of symptoms.

TB Treatment

The Tuberculosis Control Program offers treatment for both active TB disease and latent TB infections. For more information, please call the Lee County Health Department at 239-332-9529. If you would like to see more information online, please click here to visit the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website http://www.cdc.gov/tb/