Tuberculosis Control Program

Contact Information
Los Angeles County
Department of Public Health
Tuberculosis Control Program
2615 S. Grand Avenue, Room 507
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Phone: (213) 745-0800
Fax: (213) 749-0926


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Tuberculosis Control Program - TB Skin Testing General Information
For questions, please call the TB Control Program at (213) 744-6160

TB Skin Testing General Information

TB Skin Test Questions and Answers

This section answers general questions about the TB skin test and provides information on skin testing interpretation. For specific information about school-related testing requirements for students and school personnel please refer to School TB Skin Testing Requirements. If you have questions about non-school employee testing issues, see Employee Skin Testing for Non-School Settings. You can receive a TB test within Los Angeles County by viewing this page, Public Health Community Health Centers - TB Skin Testing Locations. To assist you, TB Control has provided the following answers to the most frequently asked questions about the TB skin test:

What is a TB skin test?A "TB Skin Test" is a test to see if TB germs are present in the body. L.A. County uses the Mantoux method only for testing.
Why would someone need a skin test?A skin test is used to see if a person has been exposed and infected by M. tuberculosis or tubercle bacilli. A test may also be required by an employer as an employment screening or to enter school.
What does a positive TB skin test result mean?A positive skin test means that a person has been exposed to TB germs sometime during his life. It does not indicate that a person has TB disease or is contagious
What should a person do if positive?A person with a positive reaction requires further evaluation. This person should be referred to a healthcare provider to have a chest x-ray or other clinical exams if indicated.
When should a TB test be examined? (read or checked)The skin test should be examined (or read) 48-72 hours after it is administered. It is acceptable to read the skin test up to 96 hours after administration if it is not possible to do it earlier. After 96 hours, a skin test of less than 10 mm of induration should be repeated. A skin test of 10 mm or more is positive at any time.
Should a person who had a BCG vaccination get a TB skin test?Yes. Not all BCG vaccinations are effective. A history of BCG vaccination does not exempt students or employees from the skin test.
What is latent TB infection?A person with a positive skin test and normal X-ray has latent TB infection. This is NOT contagious.
When is TB contagious?TB can be contagious in adolescents and adults, who are coughing, have a positive skin test, and an abnormal chest X-ray. TB medications will make the person non-contagious very quickly. Because of the efficacy of TB medicines, patients are not quarantined and are usually able to return to school or work within several weeks.
Are children with active TB contagious?Children under the age of 12 rarely have contagious TB. This is because they have TB in a different area in the body and do not aerosolize or cough up their germs into the air. It is for this reason that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has been instructed to check the immunization record on these children as being free of communicable TB on the day that the X-ray is taken.
Where can I obtain a skin test? If you have health insurance, check with your healthcare provider to get a TB skin test.  If you do not have health insurance, you can contact your nearest DHS health clinic or DPH public health center.
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