Tuberculosis (TB) Testing

If you think you might have tuberculosis (TB), see a healthcare provider. You can get a TB skin test or blood test to find out if you have TB germs in your body. If you test positive for TB, your healthcare provider may order a chest x-ray to check if you have active TB disease in your lungs. They may also test your mucus or phlegm. If you have symptoms in another part of your body, the doctor may test a sample from that area for TB.

What is a TB skin test? 

A TB skin test involves injecting a small amount of fluid just under the skin of your arm. Two to three days after the injection, the arm is checked for a reaction. If the test is positive, you will need further assessment to determine if you have latent TB infection (LTBI) or active TB disease. If you have had the TB vaccine before, it might cause a positive TB skin test result.

Where can I get a TB skin test?

  • Region of Waterloo Public Health offers free TB skin tests to people who have been in contact with someone with TB.
  • Public Health does not offer TB skin tests for reasons like employment, volunteering, or medical requirements.
  • If you need a TB skin test for work, school, or volunteer reasons, you can go to a health care provider or a walk-in clinic.
  • For University and College Students:
    • TB skin testing is available at Conestoga College for students of Conestoga College with Work Integrated Learning (WIL) document requirements or students of McMaster University (Conestoga campus). Clinic information is available on the HSTrax Community or by calling WIL Document Services at 519-748-5220 ext. 3101.
    • If you are a student at another university or college, contact your student health services clinic to see if they offer TB skin tests.

How much does a TB skin test cost?

The cost for TB skin tests varies. They are free for:

  • Immigrants, refugees, international students from countries where TB is more common, depending on how recently they have come to Canada
  • Students who require a test for admission or continuation in an educational institution, daycare, pre-school, or a program such as a school, college, university of other educational institution
  • Canadian-born travelers who've visited those countries for more than a month
  • People with medical risk factors referred by a healthcare provider
  • Contacts of active TB cases
If you need a TB skin test for employment or volunteering, you will have to pay for the test.

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