Tuberculosis (TB)

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Basic TB Facts
Tuberculosis (TB) disease is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can infect any part of the body including the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. TB is almost always curable with antibiotics that are available in countries such as the United States.

How TB Spreads
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are expelled 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. However, TB is not very infectious; it’s much harder to catch than the common cold.

TB is not spread by
  • Shaking someone’s hand
  • Sharing food or drink
  • Touching bed linens or toilet seats
  • Sharing toothbrushes
  • Kissing