Tuberculosis (TB) Treatment and Prevention
The TB program promotes and protects the health and safety of Santa Rosa County by identifying, treating and preventing the spread of tuberculosis. The Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa (DOH-Santa Rosa) works closely with healthcare providers in our community to provide follow-up care and treatment to people who have TB, their close contacts and those who are at high-risk of TB to ensure the control and prevention of tuberculosis in our community.
What is Tuberculosis?
TB is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is spread from person to person through the air when an infected individual coughs or sneezes particles into the air. The bacteria usually attacks the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB can be fatal.
Common signs and symptoms:
- Cough lasting longer than three (3) weeks
- Unexplained substantial weight loss
- Night sweats
*Other symptoms may be present depending on which areas of the body are infected.
TB Infection Rates
Approximately 10,000 new cases of TB are reported in the United States each year. One fourth of the world's population is infected with TB and in 2016 there were 1.7 million TB related deaths worldwide.
TB Infection vs. Disease
Individuals who become infected with TB may not exhibit any signs or symptoms since the bacteria lie dormant in the individual's body. At this time the infected person is not contagious. They may develop the disease at a later time so they are given medicine to prevent this development. Individuals who develop TB disease are contagious and need to seek immediate medical treatment. A person may have a positive TB skin test or blood test, but this only indicates exposure, not necessarily an active infection. In order for a patient to be classified as an active TB case, several criteria must be met beyond the skin test.
TB skin tests or blood test are only recommended in Florida for groups at high risk for TB disease and groups at high risk to progress from infection to disease. TB skin testing is no longer routinely recommended for:
- Students in FL Schools or Universities
- Pregnant Women
- Teachers or School Related Staff
- Daycare Staff
- Food Preparation Staff
People who decide to be tested should be willing to accept and complete treatment if tested positive. TB is treated with a number of special antibiotics given over 4 to 9 months. The TB germs are very strong and slow to be killed. It is important that persons infected with TB follow the medication schedule closely. Failure to follow the medication schedule could result in a more serious "drug resistant" TB condition.If you have any questions regarding the TB program, please call DOH-Santa Rosa at 850-983-5200 or the Florida Tuberculosis Hotline at 800-4TB INFO (800-482-4636).