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TB (Tuberculosis) - What is it?


Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs, but can attack almost any part of the body. Tuberculosis is spread from person to person through the air. When a person with TB in their lungs or throat coughs, laughs, sneezes, sings, or even talks, the germs that cause TB may spread through the air. If another person breathes in these germs there is a chance that they will become infected with tuberculosis.

It is important to understand that there is a difference between being infected with TB (latent TB) and having active TB disease. Someone who is infected with TB has the TB germs, or bacteria, in their body. The body's immune system is protecting them from the germs and they are not sick. This is referred to as latent TB.

Someone with TB disease is sick and can spread the disease to other people. A person with TB disease needs to see a doctor as soon as possible. This is referred to as active TB.

There are also forms of TB that are drug-resistant, or even worse—multi-drug resistant. This means that some of the drugs used to treat the infection are not effective against the resistant TB germs in the body.