What is TB?
What is Tuberculosis (TB)?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacteria that is spread through the air from one person to another. TB is spread through the air when someone who is sick with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, speaks, laughs, sings, or sneezes. People that spend a significant amount of time near the sick person can breathe TB into their lungs.
Latent TB Infection – TB can live in your body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection (LTBI). Persons with LTBI cannot spread the bacteria to others and are not ill. LTBI is diagnosed with a positive TB skin test and a normal chest X-ray. Preventive medicine is recommended to kill the TB bacteria before it begins to multiply and make you ill with active TB disease.
Active TB Disease – TB can multiply in your body and make you ill. This is called active TB disease. TB usually attacks the lungs, but it can grow anywhere in your body. People with active TB disease may spread the bacteria to people they spend time with every day. Patients with active TB disease usually have a positive TB skin test, an abnormal chest X-ray, abnormal sputum (matter coughed up and usually ejected from the mouth, including saliva, foreign material, and substances such as mucus or phlegm, from the respiratory tract) tests, and other symptoms. Only a doctor can tell you if you have active TB disease.
If active TB disease is in your lungs, you may:
• cough a lot,
• cough up mucus or phlegm ("flem"),
• cough up blood, or
• have chest pain when you cough.
Always cover your mouth when you cough!
If you have active TB disease, you may also:
• feel weak,
• lose your appetite,
• lose weight,
• have a fever, or
• sweat a lot at night.
If you have active TB disease in another part of the body, the symptoms may be different. These symptoms may last for several weeks. Without treatment, they usually get worse.
Can active TB disease be treated?
Active TB disease can be treated by taking medicine. It is very important that people who have active TB disease finish their medicine, and take their drugs exactly as they are told. If they stop taking the drugs too soon, they can become sick again. If they do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become difficult to treat with those drugs. It takes at least six months to kill all the TB bacteria.
Texas TB Control Law
State law requires health care professionals to report confirmed or suspected cases at the time of diagnosis. To report confirmed or suspected TB cases, please call 210-207-8823. To send a report by FAX, our FAX number is 210-228-0155.
All patients referred to the TB Prevention & Control Program will be case managed in a professional and confidential manner. Selected tuberculosis drugs are available to patients without charge.
Protect your family and friends from TB — take all your TB drugs!