Woman’s swollen pinky finger was rare sign of tuberculosis, UCSF doctors say

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Woman’s swollen pinky finger was rare sign of tuberculosis, UCSF doctors say

A 42-year-old woman who sought treatment after a week of swelling and discomfort in her left pinky finger was discovered to be infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

A 42-year-old woman who sought treatment after a week of swelling and discomfort in her left pinky finger was discovered to be infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Photo: New England Journal Of Medicine

People at risk for tuberculosis can be tested via skin or blood tests, according to an information sheet from the Centers for Disease Control. Both tests look for the body’s reaction to the germs that cause tuberculosis.

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People at risk for tuberculosis can be tested via skin or blood tests, according to an information sheet from the Centers for Disease Control. Both tests look for the body’s reaction to the germs that cause

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Photo: KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

Tuberculosis is spread when a person with an active infection coughs or sneezes, and another person breathes in the germs. Most people are infected by someone they spend a lot of time with, like a family member or coworker.

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Tuberculosis is spread when a person with an active infection coughs or sneezes, and another person breathes in the germs. Most people are infected by someone they spend a lot of time with, like a family member

… more

Photo: Toeytoey2530/Getty Images/iStockphoto

If a tuberculosis test is positive for the bacteria, the patient will undergo additional testing to determine whether there is an active or latent infection.

If a tuberculosis test is positive for the bacteria, the patient will undergo additional testing to determine whether there is an active or latent infection.

Photo: Egor Kulinich/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Patients can have a latent tuberculosis infection, with germs in their bodies but no symptoms. These patients are not contagious unless they develop an active infection.

Patients can have a latent tuberculosis infection, with germs in their bodies but no symptoms. These patients are not contagious unless they develop an active infection.

Photo: KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

When a person has an active infection, symptoms such as coughing and chest pain begin to appear.

When a person has an active infection, symptoms such as coughing and chest pain begin to appear.

Photo: SIphotography/Getty Images/iStockphoto

People diagnosed with tuberculosis disease must take several prescriptions for six to 12 months. Some people with latent infections are also prescribed drugs to kill the bacteria.

People diagnosed with tuberculosis disease must take several prescriptions for six to 12 months. Some people with latent infections are also prescribed drugs to kill the bacteria.

Photo: KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

Treatment is sometimes closely monitored to ensure the tuberculosis bacteria do not become drug resistant.

Treatment is sometimes closely monitored to ensure the tuberculosis bacteria do not become drug resistant.

Photo: Stockdevil/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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A tuberculosis vaccine exists, but is not often recommended in the United States. The vaccine does not completely protect a person from contracting the disease and can cause false positives on skin tests.

A tuberculosis vaccine exists, but is not often recommended in the United States. The vaccine does not completely protect a person from contracting the disease and can cause false positives on skin tests.

Photo: Pixel_away/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Photo: New England Journal Of Medicine

A 42-year-old woman who sought treatment after a week of swelling and discomfort in her left pinky finger was discovered to be infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

A 42-year-old woman who sought treatment after a week of swelling and discomfort in her left pinky finger was discovered to be infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Photo: New England Journal Of Medicine

Woman’s swollen pinky finger was rare sign of tuberculosis, UCSF doctors say

A woman who received treatment for a swollen pinky at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center was discovered to be infected with the same bacteria that causes tuberculosis.

According a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine by UCSF doctors Jennifer Mandal and Mary Margaretten, a 42-year-old woman sought treatment after a week of swelling and discomfort in her left pinky finger.

The woman reported no injuries to her finger, and doctors found no issues with her bones after an X-ray and CT scan.

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The doctors performed a biopsy of her skin tissue and discovered that she had been infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the same bacteria that causes tuberculosis in the lungs.

Further tests showed the patient did not have the infection in her lungs or anywhere else in her body.

According to the doctors, the woman had lupus and was being treated with mycophenolate mofetil and prednisone, both of which weakened her immune system and made her more susceptible to the infection.

“Although infection of the finger is a rare extrapulmonary manifestation of tuberculosis, it is an important consideration in immunosuppressed patients,” the doctors wrote.

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The woman is believed to have been infected by her husband, who “received a diagnosis of active pulmonary tuberculosis” after a trip to China.

She was treated with four antituberculosis drugs for nine months, and her symptoms completely subsided.

Eric Ting is an SFGATE staff writer. Email him at eting@sfchronicle.com and follow him on Twitter

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