|Tuberculosis Control and Refugee Health
3920 Michigan Avenue
Fort Myers, FL 33916
The Tuberculosis (TB) Control Program is
responsible for identifying and treating all active cases of TB. We
are also responsible for testing and offering treatment to those who
may have been exposed to an active case of TB.
What is TB?
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that can be spread
from person-to-person through airborne transmission. It is spread
when an infectious individuals expels germs into the air by
coughing, sneezing, or laughing. Those with close, prolonged contact
with an infected person have the highest risk of exposure.
The disease usually affects the lungs, but other parts of the body
can be infected in cases of extra-pulmonary TB. Symptoms of TB
include weakness, fever, fatigue, cough, coughing up blood, chest
pain, night sweats, and/or weight loss.
TB disease vs. TB infection
People with active TB disease are infected individuals who are
sick with symptoms and are infectious to others. Precautions must be
taken so that they do not spread the disease. Active TB disease can
be treated with a variety of medications.
Some individuals are infected with the TB organism but are not
sick with disease. This is often referred to as latent TB infection.
Individuals with latent TB infection were exposed to the germ at
some point, but the infection is not active inside the body. These
individuals are not infectious to others, but the infection can turn
into active TB disease if the immune system is challenged. Latent TB
infection can be treated with medication and is recommended for
high-risk groups (see below).
High risk groups for TB include:
- People who share the same breathing space (such as family
members, friends, co-workers) with someone who has TB disease
- Homeless people
- Foreign-born people form countries where a lot of people
- Alcoholics and intravenous drug users (IVDUs)
- People with medical conditions such as diabetes, certain
types of cancers, and being underweight
- People with HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS)
The TB testing process begins with a tuberculosis skin test.
positive skin test does not necessarily mean you have active TB
disease. It simply means that you were exposed to the TB germ at
some point. Those with a positive skin test should then undergo
further testing to see if there is active disease. This may
include a chest x-ray to look for abnormalities in the lungs
sputum (phlegm) testing, or other tests depending on the
presence of symptoms.
The Tuberculosis Control Program offers treatment for both
active TB disease and latent TB infections. For more
information, please call the Lee County Health Department at
239-332-9529. If you would like to see more information online,
please click here to visit the official Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention website
The Refugee Health Program provides culturally sensitive health
services to refugees and asylees of foreign countries who
relocate to Lee County. Our services include health assessments,
screenings, and immunizations. For more information about our
program, please call 239-332-9529.