Tuberculosis disease can be spread by daily exposure to someone with the disease, frequently a family member or co-worker.
A test, called a PPD, can be performed to indicate whether a person has been exposed to TB. The test is administered by injecting a solution under the skin on the inside of a forearm, then checking the injection site in 48 — 72 hours for a reaction. If a swelling is present after 48 — 72 hours, the area is measured to determine a positive reaction.
If a positive reaction is found, the person will be referred for a chest x-ray and for follow-up care with a physician. Additional testing may be necessary in the form of a sputum (fluid coughed up from the lungs) sample. The health department will provide test kits and instructions on collecting the sputum samples. Once collected, the samples are mailed to the WV Office of Laboratory Services for testing.
Tuberculosis disease is treated by taking medication, which may be provided by the health department if an individual is without prescription coverage and cannot afford the drugs. Health department nursing staff meets regularly with individuals who have contracted the disease and conduct direct observed therapy (DOT). This ensures individuals take their medication as prescribed, as it is important not to miss a dose of the drug in order for the person to be cured of the disease, as well as to prevent the tuberculosis bacterium from developing a resistance to the drugs being used.
The health department also provides educational materials to individuals with tuberculosis and their family members, or others seeking information on the disease.