Tuberculosis (TB) Program

Tuberculosis (TB) Program

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Information about Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis Fact Sheet

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium or germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney (renal TB), spine (spinal TB), and brain (tuberculous meningitis). Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection (LTBI) and TB disease. 

How TB Spreads

TB is a disease caused by germs spread through the air from one person to another. Getting TB typically requires many hours of contact with a person who is sick from TB. Most people who are exposed to TB do not get infected.

TB is NOT spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens, toilet seats or tissues, sharing toothbrushes or kissing. It can only be spread by breathing air containing TB germs. 


TB In The Body

Symptoms of TB disease depend on where in the body the TB germs are growing. TB disease in the lungs may cause the following symptoms:

  • Cough (lasting longer than 3 weeks)
  • Coughing up sputum (phlegm from inside the lungs) or blood
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Night Sweats
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss

A person’s body may kill all the TB germs or trap them in the body, this is known as a latent TB infection (LTBI). People with LTBI are not sick and cannot make others sick, yet they may become sick in the future if they are not treated.

When the body is unable to keep the infection contained, the person may feel sick and can infect others – especially people they spend time with every day. This includes family members, friends, and coworkers or schoolmates. This is called active TB disease. 

TB Testing

TB testing is done by placing a tuberculin skin test (TST) or doing a blood-draw (IGRA). Testing is needed only for individuals who have been in close contact with someone who was sick from TB. Exposure is measured in hours, not minutes, and Public Health will determine who needs to be tested. Positive tests are then followed by additional testing, such as a chest x-ray and sputum collection to determine the type of TB. 

TB Can Be Cured

TB disease can be treated with medication. People infected with TB but not sick can take medication to prevent them from becoming sick and prevent them from getting sick in the future. 

TB Patient Stories

Read some stories about people’s experiences with TB and learn what it is like to be impacted by the disease.

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