What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB), is a disease caused by bacteria caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs. TB can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys, or the spine.

Active Bacteria

TB bacteria become active if the immune system can’t stop them from growing. The active bacteria begin to multiply in the body and cause TB disease. Some people develop TB disease soon after becoming infected before their immune system can fight the TB bacteria. Other people may get sick later when their immune system becomes weak for some reason.

Weaker Immune Systems

Babies and young children often have weak immune systems. People infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, have very weak immune systems. Other people can have weak immune systems, too, especially people with any of these conditions:

  • Cancer of the Head or Neck
  • Certain Medical Treatments (Such as Corticosteroid Treatment or Organ Transplants)
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Leukemia or Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Low Body Weight
  • Severe Kidney Disease
  • Silicosis
  • Substance Abuse

Show All Answers

1. What is tuberculosis?
2. What are the symptoms of tuberculosis (TB)?
3. How is tuberculosis (TB) spread?
4. What happens if I have a positive skin test?
5. What will happen on my first visit?
6. What if I am diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB)?
7. How Is tuberculosis (TB) disease treated?
8. What is Directly Observed Therapy (DOT)?
9. What Is Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB)?
10. What is tuberculosis (TB) infection?
11. How can a person get tested for tuberculosis (TB)?
12. What if a person has been vaccinated with BCG?
13. What people with tuberculosis (TB) infection are at risk of developing TB disease?
14. How is tuberculosis (TB) infection treated?
15. What if a person has HIV infection?