About Tuberculosis

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.

Latent TB Infection

Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. People who are 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.

Active TB Disease

People with active TB disease can be treated and cured if they seek medical help. Even better, people with latent TB infection can take medicine so that they will not develop active TB disease.
  1. Complications
  2. MultiDrug Resistant TB
  3. Reporting & Symptoms
  4. Treatment & Prevention


Untreated active TB disease can spread to other parts of the body, where it can lead to serious or life-threatening complications. TB that infects the bone, for example, can cause severe pain, abscesses, and joint destruction.

The most serious complication, however, is the recurrence of TB after the initial infection and the development of drug-resistant strains of the disease.

How it Spreads

TB germs are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. These germs can stay in the air for several hours, depending on the environment. Persons who breathe in the air containing these TB germs can become infected; this is called latent TB infection.

Since TB is spread through the air, people cannot get infected with TB bacteria through handshakes, sitting on toilet seats, or sharing dishes and utensils with someone who has TB.