||Bacteria: Mycobacterium tuberculosis
||TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are released into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs or sneezes. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. People with HIV are at greater risk of getting ill.
||In most people who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. The bacteria become inactive, but they remain alive in the body and can become active later. This is called latent TB infection. Many people who have latent TB infection never develop TB disease. In these people, the TB bacteria remain inactive for a lifetime without causing disease. People with latent TB infection cannot pass infection to others because the bacteria have no way to be released into the air.
||The symptoms of TB disease are often of relatively long duration, lasting for weeks or even months. Generalized symptoms may include malaise, fever, night sweats, weight loss, and fatigue. Pulmonary (lung) TB causes a persistent cough and sometimes bloody sputum (mucus).
||Diagnosis of TB disease is based on a medical history, a Mantoux skin test, a chest x-ray and lab test on fluids or tissues from the affected part of the body. A person with latent TB infection has a positive skin test but no symptoms or other tests indicating disease.
||TB disease can be treated and cured with medications.
||Basic prevention includes ensuring that, if infected, your mouth and nose are covered with a tissure when coughing, sneezing, or laughing. It is generally best for a contagious individual to remain as isolated as possible. Preventing TB infection from becoming TB disease is usually done with a preventive therapy including a relatively inexpensive drug given over the course of at least six months.
||Without treatment, TB disease can result in death.
HIV-positive individuals are at very high risk of progressing from TB infection to TB disease.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, TB was the leading cause of death in the United States. TB is still a leading cause of death in many parts of the world.
DSHS Electronic Publication Number E13-11915