What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a communicable disease that is caused by bacteria (germs) that attack the lungs or other parts of the body such as the kidney, spine or brain. If not treated properly, TB can be fatal. Approximately one-third of the world’s population - over 2 billion people - is infected with tuberculosis bacteria. More than 9 million become sick with TB disease annually.
How is it spread?
TB is spread person-to-person through the air. When a person with active TB coughs or sneezes TB bacteria get in the air. Anyone who has close and frequent contact with a person with active TB disease can breathe in the bacteria and become infected. It generally takes several exposures over several hours in order to become infected.
TB is not spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes, or kissing.
What can I do to protect myself?
If you have TB symptoms seek treatment immediately. Someone with active TB disease will need to take several TB medicines for many months in order to become well and not infect others.
By law, Tuberculosis must be reported by doctors, hospitals and laboratories to the TB Control Program in the health department. This is necessary to make sure persons with active Tuberculosis are receiving proper medical care. We can prevent the spread of TB in the community by ensuring that the contacts of persons with TB are screened and have an opportunity to take preventive treatment if indicated.