Tuberculosis (TB) Testing

Tuberculosis (TB) Testing

What is TB?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacteria that mainly affects the lungs. TB is spread through the air from one person to another. Not everyone infected with TB becomes sick. This is called latent TB infection. People with latent TB infection have no symptoms, can’t spread TB to others, and will likely have a positive TB skin or blood test. If they do not receive treatment, they may develop TB disease. People with TB disease are sick and may spread TB to others. Symptoms include a cough lasting more than 3 weeks, coughing up blood, fever, night sweats, unexplained fatigue or weight loss. Please talk to your health care provider if you are experiencing symptoms.

Who should get TB testing?

TB tests are generally not needed for people with a low risk of exposure to TB.

Consider testing if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Close contact with someone who has TB disease

  • Born or lived in a country where TB disease is common (most countries outside of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Northern or Western Europe)

  • Travel to a country where TB disease is common for at least 1 month

  • Live or work in correctional facilities, long-term care facilities or nursing homes, or homeless shelters

  • Health care workers

How to get TB testing?

There are two types of TB tests: the TB skin test and the TB blood test. TB blood tests are the preferred method for testing as it only requires a single trip to the laboratory. TB blood tests are also recommended for those who have received the BCG vaccine.

Students:

You can get a TB blood test at the Tang Center. Self-order a test using the instructions below:

1. Login to your eTang portal

2. Select "Messages" from the menu on the left

3. Select "New Message," then "Order lab tests" (under the 'Lab' heading) and select 'Continue.'

4. Select "Order TB Blood Test", read the instructions, and select 'Continue.'

5. Answer the yes/no questions, then proceed to the "Tuberculosis blood test" section and click the box, and then click "Send."

6. Once you receive an auto-reply from the Laboratory confirming that the test has been ordered, you can proceed to the UHS Lab (no appointment needed). Please note that our building hours have changed. Check the Lab's hours here: https://uhs.berkeley.edu/hours

If you would like to get a TB skin test, please schedule an appointment on eTang or call the Travel/Immunization Clinic at (510) 643-7177. TB skin tests must be read in-person 48-72 hours after placement.

Faculty/staff:

Lab services at UHS are not available to faculty/staff for reasons other than occupational requirements. If you require TB testing for your employment, please speak with your supervisor or PI first, and then you may contact Occupational Health at 510-642-6891. 

What to do if you have a positive TB test?

A positive TB test MUST be followed up. This will usually be by a chest x-ray. A chest x-ray can help determine the difference between active TB disease and latent TB infection. Latent TB is treatable. Treatment can prevent you from becoming sick and contagious with TB disease. Students can schedule an appointment with a TB nurse for a “Positive TB Test Visit” on eTang or by calling (510) 643-7177.

For students needing a TB form completed for employment or volunteering

Please schedule a “TB Screening” appointment on eTang or call (510) 643-7177.

Note, as of March 2022, fees will be applied for completion of forms, other than forms required for enrollment by a University of California (UC) institution. A $15 fee will be applied for completion of non-UC forms, including forms for volunteering, working, or internships (such as the California School Employee Tuberculosis (TB) Risk Assessment Questionnaire).