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Effective TB Interviewing for Contact Investigation: Self-Study Modules

Return to Module 1 Table of Contents


Contacts – persons exposed to M. tuberculosis organism by sharing air space with a person with infectious TB disease. Contacts can include family members, roommates or housemates, friends, coworkers, classmates, and others classified as priority or nonpriority.

Exposure to TB – time spent with or near someone who has infectious TB disease.

Health department referral – the process of a public healthcare worker informing contacts to an index case of the need for medical evaluation due to exposure.

Index patient – a person suspected or confirmed TB disease is the initial case reported to the health department.

Infectious period – the time frame during which a person with TB disease is capable of spreading M. tuberculosis. The beginning of the infectious period is usually estimated by determining the date of onset of the patient's symptoms (especially coughing); it ends when contact with others is broken, smears improve, treatment is adequate, and symptoms have improved.

Latent TB infection (LTBI) – also referred to as TB infection. Persons with latent TB infection carry the organisms that cause TB but do not have TB disease, are without symptoms, and are not infectious. Such persons usually have a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test or a positive QuantiFERON-TB Gold test result.

Mantoux tuberculin skin test – a test used to determine if a person has been infected with M. tuberculosis. Tuberculin, a substance derived from dead tubercle bacilli, is injected under the skin. If the person has TB infection, the immune system will recognize the tuberculin and, in most cases, form a reaction.

QuantiFERON-TB Gold test (QFT) - a blood test used to detect TB infection. It measures a person’s immune reactivity to M. tuberculosis.

Re-interview – a second interview within 2 weeks of the initial interview to determine additional information which the patient may not have shared for various reasons and to confirm previously obtained information

Patient referral – the process by which an index patient informs his or her contacts of TB exposure and the need for medical evaluation.

Source case investigation – the process of conducting a public health investigation to determine who may have transmitted M. tuberculosis to a patient when recent transmission is reported. Source case investigations can be applied to both recent transmission in infected adults and children and for disease in very young children.

TB interview – an interview of a TB patient by a health department staff to identify priority contacts, build trust with the patient, and provide TB education. Interactions with a patient involve the basic principles of effective communication and patient education.

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