Tuberculosis
In the early 1900s, TB killed one out of
every seven people living in the United
States and Europe. Starting in the
1940s, scientists discovered the first
of several medicines now used to
treat TB. As a result, TB slowly began
to decrease in the United States.

Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB)
remains a concern, and extensively
drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) has
become an important issue.
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What is TB?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis*. The bacteria
usually attack the lungs. But, TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine,
and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. TB disease was once the leading cause of
death in the United States.

Tuberculosis is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air
when a person with active Tuberculosis disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or
sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. People who are infected but not sick
have what is called latent TB infection. People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not
have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. But, some people with latent TB infection go on
to get TB disease.

There is good news. People with active TB disease can be treated if they seek medical help. Even
better, most people with latent TB infection can take medicine so that they will not develop active TB
disease.

Why is TB still a problem in the United States?

In the early 1900s, Tuberculosis killed one out of every seven people living in the United States and
Europe. Starting in the 1940s, scientists discovered the first of several medicines now used to treat
Tuberculosis. As a result, TB slowly began to decrease in the United States. But in the 1970s and early
1980s, the country let its guard down and TB control efforts were neglected. This led to an increase in
the number of TB cases between 1985 and 1992. However, with increased funding and attention to the
Tuberculosis problem, there has been a steady decline in the number of persons with Tuberculosis
since 1993.

But
Tuberculosis continues to be a problem. For example, the number of TB cases is still declining, but the
speed of decline has slowed since 2003. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB) remains a concern, and
extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR TB) has become an important issue. And, racial and ethnic minority
populations and foreign-born individuals continue to account for a large number of TB cases in the
United States.

How is TB spread?

Tuberculosis is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air
when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People
nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

When a person breathes in TB bacteria, the bacteria can settle in the lungs and begin to grow. From
there, they can move through the blood to other parts of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain.

TB in the lungs or throat can be infectious. This means that the bacteria can be spread to other
people. Tuberculosis in other parts of the body, such as the kidney or spine, is usually not infectious.

People with active Tuberculosis disease are most likely to spread it to people they spend time with
every day. This includes family members, friends, and coworkers or schoolmates.

What is latent TB infection?

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. People with latent TB infection

* have no symptoms
* don't feel sick
* can't spread TB to others
* usually have a positive skin test reaction or positive Tuberculosis blood test
* may develop active TB disease if they do not receive treatment for latent TB
infection

Many people who have latent TB infection never develop active TB disease. In these people, the TB
bacteria remain inactive for a lifetime without causing disease. But in other people, especially people
who have weak immune systems, the bacteria become active, multiply, and cause TB disease.

What is latent TB infection?

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. People with latent Tuberculosis infection

* have no symptoms
* don't feel sick
* can't spread Tuberculosis to others
* usually have a positive skin test reaction or positive TB blood test
* may develop active TB disease if they do not receive treatment for latent TB
infection

Many people who have latent TB infection never develop active TB disease. In these people, the TB
bacteria remain inactive for a lifetime without causing disease. But in other people, especially people
who have weak immune systems, the bacteria become active, multiply, and cause TB disease.

What is latent TB infection?

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. People with latent TB infection

* have no symptoms
* don't feel sick
* can't spread Tuberculosis to others
* usually have a positive skin test reaction or positive TB blood test
* may develop active Tuberculosis disease if they do not receive treatment for
latent TB infection

Many people who have latent Tuberculosis infection never develop active TB disease. In these people,
the TB bacteria remain inactive for a lifetime without causing disease. But in other people, especially
people who have weak immune systems, the bacteria become active, multiply, and cause TB disease.

SOURCE CDC.GOV