The Fairfax County Health Department's TB control program exists to prevent the spread of the TB disease in the community by identifying illness, providing treatment and taking actions to prevent the spread of disease.
The Health Department:
- Provides recommendations and assistance regarding diagnosis and treatment.
- Provides free laboratory testing, chest x-rays, medications and case management services for Fairfax County residents.
- Conducts contact investigations to identify exposed individuals and provide appropriate follow-up.
- Offers TB screening for a nominal fee. (Refer to the schedule of the services offered at Health Department clinics.)
Health care providers with inquiries about TB or other communicable diseases can call 703-246-2433.
- TB is a bacterial disease spread from person to person by close, prolonged exposure to infected airborne droplets, such as from a cough or sneeze.
- TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.
- TB is not spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes or kissing.
- TB is treatable and curable.
- Effective April 4, 2016, the Health Department uses a blood test called the QuantiFERON® TB test (QFT) for everyone ages 5 years and older. The cost is $45; however, in most cases there is no charge if the test is for school entry. The QFT is a more accurate test that requires a single visit to a Health Department clinic.
- The Health Department will continue to use a tuberculin skin test (TST) for children less than 5 years old.
- A positive TB test does not indicate that a person is sick or contagious. A positive TB test means that a person has been infected with the TB bacteria and has the potential of developing active TB in the future.
- The Health Department provides chest x-rays and evaluation for TB disease, when appropriate. The Health Department encourages testing of those at risk for TB exposure.
Learn more about TB testing and diagnosis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Treatment for TB Infection
- Preventive medication is prescribed for persons who test positive for TB infection as demonstrated by a positive blood or skin test, and who have no evidence of active TB disease. The medication is safe and effective. It must be taken as prescribed, every day, for four to nine months or one time per week for three months by directly observed therapy.
Treatment for TB Disease
- Active TB disease is also treatable with medications prescribed by a physician. Active TB disease is curable as long as the medications are taken as directed with close follow-up by the Health Department TB Team.
Treatment of TB infection and TB disease is free to all Fairfax County residents.
Learn more about TB treatment from CDC.