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Contact with someone with TB

The Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD) will start tracing people who have been in contact with a patient with an infectious form of TB. We want to trace and treat people who may have been infected with the tuberculosis bacteria as soon as possible.

Who will be tested?

People who have had regular and prolonged contact with the patient will be tested first. If they are found to be infected with the tuberculosis bacteria, the screening will be extended to people who have had less contact with the patient.

The GGD nurse will help the patient who has been diagnosed with tuberculosis to draw up a list of names of people he or she has recently had contact with. These might be members of the patient’s family, friends, people at work, at school, at sports clubs, etc. The nurse will treat the information confidentially.

Who should definitely be tested?

Tuberculosis can spread more quickly among people with reduced resistance to infection. For that reason, always contact the TB department at the GGD if:

  • you have symptoms that match those of tuberculosis (such as coughing, sweating at night, weight loss)
  • you have reduced resistance due to illness or because you are taking certain types of medication
  • you have children under the age of five who have had contact with the patient
  • you think that you ought to be tested even though you have not been contacted for screening

When will testing take place?

An infection with the tuberculosis bacteria can only be reliably confirmed eight weeks after the last contact with the tuberculosis patient.

If the patient has had a cough for a long time and may be infectious, close contacts (such as family members, for instance) will be invited for an initial test earlier. That may mean that they need to be tested twice.

How is the test carried out?

The tests are not dangerous, even for children or if you are pregnant. The test can be done in various ways:

  • Tuberculin skin test (Mantoux)The tuberculin skin test can reveal an infection with the tuberculosis bacteria. This test involves injecting the skin in the left forearm with a small amount of liquid containing tuberculosis protein. The test will be assessed two or three days later.
  • Blood test (IGRA)A blood sample will be taken and tested in the lab for the presence of antibodies to combat tuberculosis.
  • X-ray of the lungs (chest X-ray) The X-ray may reveal inflammation or fluid in the lungs. That could be a sign of lung tuberculosis.

Does it cost anything?

Contact screening is free of charge. If subsequent tests are needed, there will be a charge (see item "Fee charged by health insurance company").