CDC Logo Tuberculosis Information CD-ROM   Image of people
jump over main navigation bar to content area
TB Guidelines
Surveillance Reports
Slide Sets
TB-Related MMWRs and Reports
Education/Training Materials
Ordering Information


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Education Materials > Publications > Self-Study Modules on TB > Module 5 > Background

Self-Study Modules on Tuberculosis

This is an archived document. The links are no longer being updated.

Module 5: Infectiousness and Infection Control


In this module, you will learn about the factors that determine the infectiousness (contagiousness) of a person with TB disease. This will help you and others decide whether a particular patient should be considered infectious. You will also learn about the precautions you should take if you come in contact with patients who are considered infectious. These precautions, called infection control precautions, are meant to prevent the spread of TB in hospitals, clinics, and communities.


After working through this module, you will be able to:
  1. Describe the factors that determine the infectiousness of a TB patient.
  2. Explain when a TB patient can be considered noninfectious.
  3. Describe the main goal of an infection control program.
  4. List the three types of controls in an effective infection control program.
  5. Describe how TB can be detected in a health care facility and explain what should be done when a patient is suspected of having TB.
  6. Describe the purpose and the characteristics of a TB isolation room.
  7. Describe the three types of engineering controls.
  8. Describe the circumstances when personal respirators should be used.
  9. Describe the role of the health department in infection control.
  10. Describe the precautions that health care workers should take when visiting the home of a TB patient who may be infectious.

New Terms

Look for the following new terms in this module and in the glossary.

administrative controls guidelines for promptly detecting patients who have TB, placing them in an area away from other patients, giving them a diagnostic evaluation as soon as possible, and treating them if they are likely to have TB disease

cough-inducing procedures procedures that make a patient cough, such as sputum induction, bronchoscopy, and the administration of aerosolized pentamidine

diagnostic evaluation an evaluation used to diagnose TB disease; includes a medical history, a chest x-ray, the collection of specimens for bacteriologic examination, and possibly a tuberculin skin test

engineering controls engineering systems used to prevent the transmission of TB in health care facilities, including ventilation, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration, and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation

HEPA filters special filters that can be used in ventilation systems to help remove droplet nuclei from the air

isolation room a room with special characteristics to prevent the spread of droplet nuclei expelled by a TB patient, including negative-pressure ventilation

negative pressure a ventilation system designed so that air flows from the corridors into an isolation room, ensuring that contaminated air cannot escape from the isolation room to other parts of the facility

personal respirators special masks designed to filter out droplet nuclei; used in health care facilities and other settings where TB may be spread

ultraviolet germicidal irradiation the use of special lamps that give off ultraviolet light, which kills the tubercle bacilli contained in droplet nuclei

ventilation systems air systems designed to maintain negative pressure and to exhaust the air properly; designed to minimize the spread of TB in a health care facility


Released October 2008
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination -

Please send comments/suggestions/requests to:, or to
CDC/Division of Tuberculosis Elimination
Communications, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch
1600 Clifton Rd., NE - Mailstop E-10, Atlanta, GA 30333