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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Core Curriculum on Tuberculosis, 2000

Chapter 5
Diagnosis of TB


The symptoms of pulmonary TB include cough, chest pain, and hemoptysis; the specific symptoms of extrapulmonary TB depend on the site of disease. Systemic symptoms consistent with TB include fever, chills, night sweats, appetite loss, weight loss, and easy fatigability. The possibility of TB should be considered in persons who have these symptoms. Persons suspected of having TB should be referred for a medical evaluation, which should include a medical history, a physical examination, a Mantoux tuberculin skin test, a chest radiograph, and any appropriate bacteriologic or histologic examinations. Positive bacteriologic cultures for M. tuberculosis confirm the diagnosis of TB. Clinicians should not wait for bacteriologic culture results before starting therapy. Therapy should be started when the potential risks of TB exceed the risk of therapy.


After working through this chapter, you will be able to

  • List at least five symptoms of pulmonary TB;
  • Explain the purpose and significance of the acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smear;
  • Explain the purpose and significance of the culture;
  • List at least four groups of persons who are at an increased risk for drug resistance.


Released October 2008
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination -

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