Health Department

Tuberculosis (often called TB)

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs, but TB can attack any part of the body. Tuberculosis is spread from person to person through the air. When people with TB in their lungs or throat cough, laugh, sneeze, sing or even talk, the germs that cause TB may spread into the air.

There is a difference between TB infection and having TB disease.

Someone who is infected with TB has the TB germs, or bacteria, in their body, but they are not sick and they can not spread TB to others. TB infection is discovered when a person has a positive skin test (also called a PPD). Someone with TB disease is sick and can spread the disease to other people, so they should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Who gets it? Anyone can get TB.

Symptoms include: Cough that will not go away, feeling tired all the time, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, coughing up blood, and night sweats.


Treatment for TB depends on whether a person has TB disease or only TB infection. A person who has become infected with TB, but does not have TB disease, may be given preventive therapy which aims to kill germs that are not doing any damage right now, but could break out later. Preventive therapy is a usually a daily dose of a medicine called isoniazid (also called INH). A person takes INH for nine months (up to one year for some patients). A person with TB disease is given more than one medication which is determined by the physician.

Skin Testing (PPD) is available to those with:

Symptoms of TB; A positive tine test; A contact to someone with active TB disease. It takes two appointments for the skin test to be done. One appointment is to place the test and another appointment 2 - 4 days later to evaluate (or check) the test.

Financial Cost:

All nursing and physician appointments and consultations are free of charge to the client. Some tests are billed to the client’s insurance. Clinics are by appointment only.

Follow-up care

Follow-up care for individuals with positive skin tests (PPDs) includes: Nursing Interview; Chest X-Ray; Doctor’s evaluation: ECDH has a pulmonologist (lung specialist) that is available two times a month to discuss our client’s care, treatment, and his recommendations. ECDH strives to accomplish your treatment in a timely and convenient manner.

Chest x-rays

Chest x-rays will be ordered for persons with positive skin tests (PPDs). If your insurance does not cover these expenses, the county will cover the cost and request that you have your x-ray done at Chest Disease of Northwest PA, 3580 Peach Street, Erie.

Sputum cultures

Sputum cultures for the TB germ may be ordered, if the client is coughing.

Blood work

Blood work is done prior to starting any TB medications, as a safety measure. If medications are prescribed, you are expected to return monthly for health monitoring by a public health nurse to insure consistent and appropriate treatment.


Our outreach worker is available to assist with transportation to and from the clinic and to facilitate treatment of active TB cases.

Want to Learn More?

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