WHAT IS TUBERCULOSIS


Tuberculosis (also known as “TB,” “TB disease” or “active TB”) is an airborne, contagious disease caused by a bacterial


infection. Without proper treatment,up to two-thirds of people with TB disease will die. A person with TB disease has


symptoms that can include intense coughing, significant weight loss, fatigue, fever, and night sweats. People with


advanced stages of the disease can cough up blood and small pieces of lung tissue. When a person with TB disease


coughs, the TB bacteria exit the body through the mouth and are expelled into the air. The bacteria can survive


suspended in the air for hours, during which time people breathing that air can inhale them and acquire TB infection.


Because TB disease is a contagious airborne illness of public health concern, all states require suspected and diagnosed


cases of TB disease to be reported to state health departments. These reports are forwarded without identifiers to the


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

SUMMARY

Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne infectious disease that requires long and complex treatment with several antibiotics. People can live with TB infection for years—even decades—without symptoms beforedeveloping active TB disease. Millions of Americans are living with TB infection: one in 24 people inthe U.S.Recognizing people’s right to know their TB status, this paper calls for a more robust nationalresponse focusing on diagnosing and treating TB infection in order to prevent future cases of TB and tostop its transmission.

According to the CDC, an estimated 11 million people roughly 1 in 24 people in the U.S. today are living with TB infection.

 

  WANT TO LEARN MORE? 

​  Read full description of tuberculosis here 

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   Who is most at risk? 


  • Adults and children who have had contact with someone who had pulmonary TB (TB disease affecting the lungs)


  • Younger individuals, despite normal health, have a greater life-time risk of TB – 6% at age 20 years compared to 3% at age 50 years.


  • People living with an illness or health condition that weakens the immune system, including: people living with HIV infection, patients initiating anti- tumor necrosis factor (TNF) treatment, patients receiving dialysis, patients preparing for organ or bone marrow transplantation, patients with silicosis, and diabetics from countries where TB is highly prevalent.


  • Health-care workers


  • Homeless persons


  • Immigrants from countries that have high burdens of TB


  • Illicit drug users


  • Incarcerated persons