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Tuberculosis (TB)


World TB Day 2021
March 24 is World TB Day, an annual event that commemorates the announcement in 1882 of Dr. Robert Koch’s identification of M. tuberculosis as the causative agent of TB. In our current moment, as we collectively confront the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is worth remembering the context in which Koch made his profound discovery. In the 1880s, average life expectancy in the U.S. was 39 years. In 1900, an estimated 450 Americans, most aged 15-44, died of tuberculosis each day. Although the impact of Koch’s work in bacteriology was seismic, the first antibiotic treatments for TB were still more than 50 years away.

The global response to the latest emerging infectious disease, COVID-19, highlights a universal truth – public health interventions and comprehensive safety nets are essential to community health. TB and COVID-19 are both caused by respiratory pathogens; controlling them will demand the same commitment to support new interventions, accessible diagnostics, preventive vaccines, treatment innovations, and the public health infrastructure needed to investigate, respond to, and contain outbreaks.

On World TB Day 2021, we take a moment in the current storm to recognize our health care colleagues – past, present, and future – who play a central role in protecting our health and safety. If you are a TB physician, nurse, outreach worker, researcher, epidemiologist, or administrator, you follow in the legacy of Robert Koch. Whether your “frontline” is currently a TB clinic, a primary care office, an ER, or an ICU, you are a champion – when the world is paying attention, and when it is not.

On March 24, and every day, you humble and inspire us. We thank you, one and all.

Contra Costa County Public Health TB Control is pleased to share with you important information about how we, along with the help of our community partners, healthcare providers and client families, control and strive to eliminate TB in our county. Attached is our 2021 report on Tuberculosis in Contra Costa County. Additional information may also be found at cchealth.org/TB or you may call the TB Control program directly at 925-313-6740 with questions.


TB is transmitted from person to person through the air when a patient with active TB disease coughs, sneezes or speaks. Because it is air-borne, it is especially important for those living in or traveling to a TB risk area to be aware that they are at risk for the disease, to know the symptoms of TB and to be tested, if they think they have been exposed.

Most people who are infected with the TB germ do not have the active form of the disease. They have no symptoms and are not infectious. However, they carry the germ, which may grow and lead to the active, infectious disease at some time in the future.


What are the symptoms of TB?

Symptoms of TB disease typically include a cough, lasting more than three weeks, accompanied by unintentional weight loss of at least 10 pounds, fevers and night sweats. It is essential for anyone with TB symptoms to consult a health care provider to find out if they have the active disease.

How do you know if you have TB?

TB infection can be diagnosed with two types of tests: a TB skin test (TST), also called a PPD; and one of two blood tests, called IGRAs. We recommend a blood test for anyone who has had a BCG vaccination. If someone has TB infection, but not active TB disease, it can be treated with a special medicine, called INH, taken for 9 months. Consult your health care provider about whether you should have a TB test, and which test is the best for you.

Find out more about where in Contra Costa County to get a skin test or how to see a doctor, or to get more information call Contra Costa Public Health at 925-313-6740.

For additional information