Content Map Terms

Tuberculosis Screening

British Columbia Specific Information

Tuberculosis, also known as TB, is a serious disease. TB is caused by bacteria that spread through the air when a person with contagious TB coughs, sneezes, sings, or talks. TB usually affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body like glands, bones, joints, kidneys, the brain, and reproductive organs.

For more information on TB, including testing and home isolation, see HealthLinkBC File #51a Tuberculosis (TB), HealthLinkBC File #51b Sputum Testing for Tuberculosis (TB), and HealthLinkBC File #51c Home Isolation for Tuberculosis (TB). For more information about TB, including information about TB clinics and programs, visit BC Centre for Disease Control – Tuberculosis.

Topic Overview

All cases of tuberculosis (TB) are reported to the public health authority, because the disease can spread to others and cause outbreaks. Major health authorities keep track of TB outbreaks and encourage early testing for people who are at risk for the disease.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends testing for people who have high risk for TB. These may include people who:footnote 1

  • Live or spend time with someone who has TB.
  • Were born in parts of the world where TB is common.
  • Live or have lived in crowded conditions where TB can easily spread, such as nursing homes, homeless shelters,or correctional facilities.
  • Work in a hospital or nursing home.

You may also be tested for TB if you have HIV, other medical problems, or misuse drugs or alcohol.

People who have a high risk for developing TB may have a skin test (tuberculin test) on a regular basis. Health professionals may be given a tuberculin skin test when they begin work in a hospital or nursing home, with retesting every 6 to 12 months.

For more information, see the topic Tuberculosis.



  1. Greenaway C, et al. (2014). Tuberculosis surveillance and screening in selected high-risk populations. In Canadian Tuberculosis Standards 7th ed., chap. 13. Public Health Agency of Canada. Accessed October 14, 2016.


Current as of: July 1, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
W. David Colby IV MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease