Tuberculosis Fact Sheets
Information for Providers
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a bacteria and was once the leading cause of death in the United States.
TB Can Be Contagious
TB is spread through the air from person to person. Usually, in order for infection to occur, a healthy person must be in very close contact with a person with ACTIVE TB who is coughing or sneezing. Also, the contact usually occurs in an enclosed space with little fresh air and over a long period of time. Even under these conditions, people often do not become infected.
TB cannot be spread by touching tissues, eating utensils, or linens that have been used by a person with ACTIVE disease. It can only be spread by breathing air containing TB germs.
A person’s body may kill all the TB germs; however, if the TB germs remain alive but inactive in the body, this is known as TB INFECTION. People with INFECTION are not sick and cannot make others sick, yet they may become sick in the future if they are not treated.
When the body is unable to keep the infection suppressed, the person may feel sick and can infect others – especially close family and friends. This is called ACTIVE TB. People with ACTIVE TB must receive treatment, or they will become very sick and can continue to infect others.
TB Can Be Cured
Both people with INFECTION and ACTIVE disease can be cured by taking medications.