TB Screening for Colleges & Universities


The Iowa TB Control program strongly recommends TB screening be conducted in all college, community college, and university campuses in Iowa. These screening and testing recommendations are consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Thoracic Society and the American College Health Association. “Screening” refers to the process of identifying persons at high-risk for TB infection and disease. Screening is conducted for all incoming students and employees to identify those with identified risk factors for TB infection and disease. For those students and employees with identified risk factors, testing for TB infection should be conducted.

Baseline TB Screening: Colleges and Universities

Persons attending colleges or universities in Iowa from these countries should receive baseline TB screening upon entry into the college or university. Baseline TB screening consists of two components: (1) assessing for current signs and symptoms of TB disease  and (2) testing to screen for infection with M. tuberculosis.

The vast majority of these countries have a nationwide BCG vaccination policy. The test of preference for persons with a history of BCG vaccination is an IGRA (blood test). Unlike tuberculin skin test (TST), IGRAs do not cause false positive test results due to BCG vaccination. 

A negative TST or IGRA does not rule out TB disease. Persons with TB disease often have a false negative TST or IGRA. Conducting an assessment for signs and symptoms of TB disease is critical. Persons with signs and symptoms of TB disease require a medical evaluation, the chief component of which is a chest x-ray, to rule out TB disease. 

Medication for the treatment of TB infection and disease is available from the TB Control Program. Click here for more information on how to order medication.

Although TB testing programs should be conducted only among high-risk groups, certain individuals may require TB testing for employment or school attendance. An approach independent of risk assessment is not recommended by CDC or the American Thoracic Society. For details on screening and targeted testing see American College Health Association Guidelines.