Tuberculosis is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB can infect any part of the body, but most frequently is found in the lungs. Symptoms of TB include the following:
a bad cough lasting longer than 2 weeks
pain in the chest
coughing up blood or sputum
What is Tuberculosis (TB)?
In most people who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the infection and stop the bacteria from growing. This prevents them from developing active TB disease but the bacteria remain alive and can become active later in life. This is called TB infection. People with TB infection do not feel sick and cannot spread the infection to others. Many people who are infected with TB bacteria never develop TB disease. Other people who have been infected, especially if they have or develop a weakened immune system over their lifetime, are at a higher risk for developing active TB.
How is TB spread?
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB of the throat or lungs coughs or sneezes. Someone who is in close contact with the person who has active TB infection can breathe in the bacteria and become infected.
People with TB disease are most likely to spread the infection to those they spend the most time with on a daily basis, such as family members, coworkers, and friends.