Tuberculosis (TB)

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Tuberculosis (TB) facts

  • TB is an infectious disease that's transmitted from person to person.
  • There are many different types of TB.
  • A bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, causes the disease.
  • There are many risk factors for TB. Clinical symptoms and signs of pulmonary TB include fever, night sweats, cough, hemoptysis (coughing up blood-stained sputum), weight loss, fatigue, and chest pain.
  • Physicians definitively diagnose TB by culturing mycobacteria from sputum or biopsy specimens, but health-care professionals presumptively diagnose TB by history, physical exam, skin testing, and chest X-rays.
  • Treatment of TB infection is related to the type of TB infection and often requires extended treatments (months) with one or more anti-TB drugs.
  • Complications of TB range from none to death and include lung, kidney, and liver problems that can be severe.
  • The prognosis for appropriately treated TB infection is good. The prognosis declines in people who develop complications or who have had previous TB treatments.
  • Prevention of TB involves both early treatment to reduce transmission and isolation of the infected person until they are no longer contagious. There is a vaccine against TB, but it is not used routinely in the U.S. because of efficacy issues and other problems.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/24/2014

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Get the facts about extensively drug-resistant TB and multi drug-resistant TB.

CDC Issues Isolation Order for Man with TB

In May 2007, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) issued an order to quarantine a man who flew on two transatlantic flights with a rare, dangerous form of tuberculosis and potentially exposed passengers and crew to the infection.

The Atlanta man was believed to be infected with the form of the tuberculosis bacteria known as "extensively drug-resistant" TB, abbreviated XDR TB.