Exposure to tuberculosis

Persons who had contact with a patient with contagious tuberculosis will be invited for tuberculosis testing as part of a contact investigation. This is done to find persons who are possibly infected in an early stage and offer treatment.

A person who had frequent and/ or long periods of contact with the tuberculosis patient will be tested first. If the test results show more than expected infections among the contacts the GGD will expand the investigation to people who had less contact. We follow strict guidelines to prevent unnecessary testing.

Together with the tuberculosis patient, the nurse of the GGD will compose a list of persons with whom he or she had recent contact. These contacts could be family members, friends or colleagues etc. Our Nurse will handle all personal information with care and confidentially.

The disease tuberculosis can develop faster in persons with a weaker immune system.

Always contact the tuberculosis department at the GGD if:

  • You have symptoms that fit the diagnosis of active tuberculosis like coughing for more than 3 weeks, night sweats and weight loss.
  • You have a weaker immune system due to medication or disease.
  • You have children younger than 5 years of age who had contact with the tuberculosis patient.

The investigation is initiated dependent on the risk of infection and development of the disease.

When a patient has been coughing for a longer period and possibly contagious, near contacts (like family members) will be invited for testing as soon as possible. After this first round of testing a second round may follow.

Only after about 8 weeks after the last contact with the Tb patient can an infection be confirmed or ruled out.

For more information see the information brochure tuberculosis and contact investigation

The investigation can include one or more tests listed below:

  • Tuberculin skintest (Mantoux)
    With this test an infection with the tuberculosis bacteria can be detected. A small amount of fluid is injected in the skin in the left side of the forearm. If you have antibodies against tuberculosis a skin reaction with a bump will occur.
  • Blood test (IGRA)
    A blood sample is taken and sent to the laboratory to test whether there are antibodies against tuberculosis in your blood. After 2 to 3 weeks you will receive the result by letter or email.
  • Chest X-ray (X-thorax)
    The chest X ray can show abnormalities suggesting tuberculosis.

The investigations are not harmful (including for children and pregnant women).

Contact investigation is free of charge. If further testing is necessary, it will be charged. For more information see vergoeding zorgverzekeraar