Santa Clara County (SCC) has the 4th highest number of tuberculosis (TB) cases among all counties in California after Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange Counties. The rate is almost three times as high as the rate for the U.S. overall. In SCC, 62% of persons with TB were born in Vietnam, India, and the Philippines; 33% are 65 years of age or older; and 26% have diabetes.
TB is a disease caused by a bacteria that is spread through the air from person to person. Anyone in frequent or prolonged contact with someone with infectious TB can become infected with the TB bacteria, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
TB can cause very severe illness and it can be fatal. While TB most often affects the lungs, it can affect any part of the body including lymph nodes, bones, kidneys, and the brain. Symptoms of TB can include fever, weight loss, night sweats, and fatigue. When TB affects the lungs, symptoms can also include a cough that lasts more than 2-3 weeks, coughing up blood, and chest pain. Fortunately, TB can be treated and cured - if you have any of these symptoms you need to see a doctor!
TB can be prevented!
When you are infected with the bacteria that causes TB, there is a period of time when you have no symptoms, even though TB bacteria are “sleeping” inside your body - this is called latent TB infection, which is not contagious. When the body’s immune system can no longer contain the infection, the bacteria “wake up,” multiply, and cause disease. You can become sick with TB disease within weeks, years, or even decades after becoming infected. If you develop TB disease of your lungs, the TB bacteria can be spread through the air to others who you are in close contact with.
It is estimated that 8.5% of SCC residents, or approximately 160,000 people, have latent TB infection, though most do not know they are infected.
Know your risk – prevent TB!
You should get tested for latent TB infection if you have any of the following risk factors:
- You were born or have lived in a country where TB is more common (countries other than the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or a country in western or northern Europe)
- You were in close contact with a person known to have TB
- You are immunosuppressed
Your doctor can test you for latent TB infection with a TB skin test or TB blood test. If your test is positive, your doctor can prescribe medicine to kill these bacteria so that you don’t become sick with TB disease in the future. If you do not have a doctor, these community health centers can provide testing.
Treatment for latent TB infection can decrease the risk of developing TB disease by over 90% when medications are taken as prescribed. There is a newer short-course regimen that allows people to complete treatment in just 12 weeks by taking a combination of medications (isoniazid and rifapentine) once a week.
Tuberculosis (TB) School Mandate
Effective June 1, 2014, students newly enrolling into school in Santa Clara County are required to undergo TB testing ONLY if their healthcare provider identifies a risk factor for TB exposure. Prior to school enrollment, children are required to have their healthcare provider complete the Santa Clara County Public Health Department Risk Assessment for School Entry form
. Take this form to your provider to complete and return to your child’s school. This requirement applies to students attending both public and private schools in Santa Clara County and is based on the authority given to the Santa Clara County Health Officer under the California Health and Safety Code, Section 121515.
For routine yearly exams, the CDPH pediatric risk assessment may be used by your provider. This form does not meet the requirements for students newly enrolling in Santa Clara County schools.
If your child does not have a regular health care provider, you may follow up at one of these community health centers
to arrange for medical evaluation.
To learn more, download additional information:
Dear Parent Letter (English / Spanish / Chinese / Vietnamese)
FAQ about the SCC TB Risk Assessment for School Entry Form
Where to get screened for latent TB infection in Santa Clara County
TB Screening Requirements for Children in Child Care
Please see Tuberculosis Screening for Children in Childcare fact sheet for more information.
TB Screening Requirements for Child Care/School Staff and Volunteers
The California Department of Public Health Tuberculosis Risk Assessment for Child Care/School Staff and Volunteers satisfies California
Education Code, Sections 49406 and 87408.6 and the California Health and Safety
Code, Sections 1597.055 and 121525, 121545, and 121555. Please see Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for additional information.
Tuberculosis (TB) Prevention and Control Program
Santa Clara County Public Health Department
976 Lenzen Avenue, Suite 1700
San Jose, CA 95126
Phone: (408) 792-1381
Fax: (408) 885-2331