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My mother just completed a lengthy hospitalization for fluid around the heart and then a week later, around the lungs. She has a pericardial window to eliminate fluid around the heart, 2 thoracenteses to drain the lungs, and a new pacemaker. She will be 80 in June. The docs eliminated all possible causes for this except perhaps pulmonary TB, post viral pericardial/pleural effusion or heart inflammation (to be fixed by pacemaker).


When the hospital’s infectious disease doc learned of the positive blood test for TB she put my mom on TB treatment right away and after sputum testing proved negative, declared my Mom non-infectious. My mom had gotten a negative skin test result back in October and we are waiting on full culture results to be completed in 5 weeks.


However by law, the County has to be told and now they will come to my mom’s home once a day to give her TB drugs for months. Initially we were told they’d be discrete and dress in plain clothes- they told my mother last night that they’d be covered head to toe. My mother is panicked because she thinks if anyone sees these people coming to her door day after day they will become suspicious, tell the management, and then be evicted. (We can’t ask mgmt for their current policy on this since this would identify her, but were told a year ago she had to test negative for TB to move in and they require annual skin tests)


Is it possible to be evicted even though her doc has deemed her non infectious, and she’s undergoing treatment to eradicate it?

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I contracted TB coming back from an overseas trip. It is infectious, but if you stay on the treatment daily for 6 months without fail, you can recover completely and fully, without infecting anyone. I had my family around me and my helper, and they were all tested regularly and nobody got it from me. My children were fine too, even though they wanted contact with me. I took 13 tablets 3 times daily = 39. That was 20 years ago. Your mom should be fine, if she takes her meds and maybe they can leave it with someone who would help and ensure she takes it daily. It's sad when people are misinformed. It is curable.
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Thanks to Pamzimmrrt for the term "loculated". That explains the positive tests without being sick (or infectious).
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Anyone who worked in a hospital in 1953 could test positive. My daughter was exposed in school in 1988. She never tested positive. TB is a tricky thing to diagnose these days but it exists, yes, mostly in countries other than the US. But we do have our generous immigration laws. So look for it in the next few years.
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This is one of the big reasons why we need a rational healthcare system. I'm sure hoping that the TB drugs are free of charge to the patient, otherwise people may stop taking them because they cannot afford them. Robust public healthcare is essential to national security. But I guess the Pentagon doesn't care about it.
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A thought, why can't she go to them? Why do they have to come to her? Back in the dark ages, 1948, I had to take a TB test. They put a band aid over the site while I waited 3 days. I am allergic to band aids and even though the actual test site was ok, I had 2 squares of weeping sores where the band aids covered my skin. All the rest of the way through school, I would have to go to the County Health Department at least once a year and get tested. I also had to go and get a chest x-ray once a year.
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Indeed it is common to test positive for TB,, I am in healthcare and many staff cannot pass the skin test, have to have an Xray. The nodules become loculated,, or surrounded, and the person is not infectious. Old sailor is correct about new cases showing up because many people do not complete the drugs, or come here from places that still have active TB and were never diagnosed or treated. We do put suspected TB patients in special rooms while they are in the hospital,, but once they are released ,,we hope they keep taking their drugs.. but we can't force them too! TB sanatariums are a thing of the past in the USA as far as I am aware.
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It sounds like it was a diagnosis of TB because most other things were ruled out - ask for [& demand it if it is not soon forthcoming] copies of all tests re the TB & find out if she even had it positively diagnosed or just a guess from both hospital & doctors even if you get more than 1 copy of some - if she never had a positive test then don't subject her to all those drugs - sometimes drs take an 'easy' way out [for themselves] rather than keeping on looking especially when the drugs start to work but it may have cured something else still undiagnosed

TB takes time to recover from so that is why I'm suspicious of this all - my husband's cousin had it when she was 6 & was in a special hospital for at least 5 months plus all the drugs rendered her sterile [she's 85 now]

Check with local health authorities if there have been any confirmed cases in your area & assuming she hasn't been travelling so where did she get it OR DID SHE EVER HAVE IT?

My mom tests positive for TB & needs chest Xrays to show she is clear however that is because she was in contact with an uncle who died of it in 1941 [77 years ago] & she will always be positive for her whole life - as a child I was inoculated against TB so I always have a low grade positive too - have your mom get the chest Xray so that you have proof before she is subjected to those drugs
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I went through the tb medication back in '83-'84. Skin test showed positive. I took a medication called INH for twelve months.And told "no more skin test for you."

Now that was nothing compared to wife's renal TB. 24 months of medications and quarterly x-rays with dye. No more skin tests for her either.
I realize this was done in the dark ages but neither of us were isolated.
But, here in Vegas there have been incidents of TB in schools and that caused a near panic in the schools.
Much of the panic is the result of carriers previously diagnosed not completing the treatment and creating the drug resistant strains. Our health department goes nearly bananas when TB is reported and for good reason but I have not herd of anyone being put into isolation.
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Thanks all for the advice - very much appreciated. I'll check her lease agreement for details and have a phone call into the County.

From my research, there is a difference between latent TB and active TB. Latent means it's in the body, but body is strong enough to fight it back and not let it become infectious. Latent TB can be in a body for decades, and when a person ages, it's common for the body not to be able to keep the latent TB from growing into active TB. The skin test can't test for latent - only the blood test can test this. So my mother could have picked this up anywhere in her many years - from the grocery store checkout clerk to her visits to Mexico and Italy, to her time as a nurse. I've been tested and am negative (blood test).

The hospital thinks her blood test was false positive, so they isolated her until her sputum came back negative, then declared her non-infectious. The County handles this differently - if blood comes back positive they isolate until 10 days of meds are taken and sputum comes back negative. They then continue to give TB meds until a full culture comes back in 6-8 weeks. If that's negative then the whole process stops since this appears that the blood test was indeed false (skin test + sputum + culture are all negative) It's confusing.

This all amazingly has become 2nd priority as she's now back in hospital with more fluid in the lungs. Thanks all again!
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My question would be, how did Mom contact TB to begin with? There has to be a carrier out there. And if you and other relatives/friends had spent quality time with Mom prior to her finding she had TB, make sure you are also tested.

The test is usually a pin prick on the inside of one's arm, then between 48 and 72 hours you need to return to the same place to get a reading. I have a TB test done yearly as I do volunteer work at a hospital, and it is required of everyone.

As RayLinStephens had mentioned above, I also wondered why your Mom wasn't put into quarantine at the hospital.
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Presumably because she has since tested negative for TB in a blood test and produced a negative sputum result. But it is so terribly difficult to prove a negative, isn't it...

Izzy, what the community's management won't do is kick your mother bag and baggage out onto the street. They may want to set up sensible infection control precautions. In fact it's not impossible that they are required to. Have you had a look through your mother's tenancy agreement to see if it says anything about requirements to notify them of problems like this? If an annual test is required anyway, they must also say something about what happens if future tests prove positive, surely?

Your mother hasn't done anything wrong, is the first thing to reassure her about.

The responsible thing to do (and I understand that this isn't easy because of your mother's natural anxiety about gossip and panic, and of course in any case she has a right to patient confidentiality, but all the same) would be to take advice from the county's team on how to manage the Need To Know.
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I never heard on non-contagious TB.

Research this yourself online - maybe the test that shows a possibility can be the result of one of her other medications, ie: allergy pills, pain pills, etc. You can always request retesting, even if she must pay for it out-of-pocket. First find out what medications might give a positive reading on the TB test.

Barb is right - make that call and also do your research.

Yes, other residents must not be exposed to the possibility of TB. However, something doesn't sound right with all this - if they think she has TB, why wasn't she held in quarantine at the hospital?
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You should call the County infectious disease folks and ask them what her rights are.
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