TB is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis
. This germ usually attacks 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 is spread through the air from one person to another. The germs are put into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs or sneezes. People nearby may breathe in these germs and become infected.
However, not everyone infected with TB germs becomes sick. People who are not sick have what is called latent TB infection. As long as the TB infection remains latent, the individual will not feel sick, will not have any symptoms and cannot spread TB to others.
People with active TB disease and latent TB infection can be treated. For active TB, several antibiotics are usually prescribed for at least six months. In some case, TB medicines may need to be taken longer than six months. If active TB disease is diagnosed, a Public Health Nurse will assist with the investigation of contacts and will ensure medications are provided.
California Department of Public Health
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Core Curriculum on TB
Latent TB Infection
Addendum to Latent TB Infection
Controlling TB in the United States
Treatment of TB