Monday, March 26, 2007

My TB skin test

My TB skin test site (inside the red circle).

The last line of the previous entry refers to the many new “victims” of TB, and perhaps the overall tone of the excerpt was a touch cynical.

Sorry 'bout that.

It’s just that there is a lot of TB here in Swaziland.

A good portion of our clinic patients are infected.


On a different but related note, I recently had an “indeterminate” TB skin test (TST). I mentioned it at the end of an entry a couple months ago, I believe.

“Indeterminate” essentially means not obviously positive but not exactly negative. In other words, the half-dozen docs I asked about the swelling at the site of the TST injection could not agree as to whether the area was swollen enough to be unequivocally positive.

In short, the vote was essentially split as to whether or not I have the bug in my lungs.

If I do, it is almost certainly in the earlier and less serious ‘latent’ phase and not the ‘active’ phase, which is accompanied by coughing, fevers, and all of the symptoms you associate with tuberculosis.

The "conversion" from nonexposed to exposed in not uncommon, and happens frequently among health care workers who work with TB-infected patients.


In any case, because I am naturally interested to know if I am hosting some uninvited mycobacteria, I repeated my TB skin test today (see photo above), and I will let you know what it determines.

If I do have TB in my lungs, I will simply take medicine for 6ish months until it is no longer there.

In addition to reading yesterday’s entry on World TB Day 2007, you can read more about TB in my February excerpt describing an encounter with a TB patient (“An old woman is looking for you”).


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