Exposure to TB
||Exposure to TB
What is TB?
"TB" is short for a disease called tuberculosis. TB is spread
through the air from one person to another. The TB germs are passed
through the air when someone who is sick with TB disease of
the lungs or throat coughs, speaks, laughs, sings, or sneezes. The
people near the sick person can breathe TB germs into their lungs.
TB germs can live in your body without making you sick. This is
called latent TB infection. This means you have only inactive
(sleeping) TB germs in your body. The inactive germs cannot be
passed on to anyone else. However, if these germs wake up or become
active in your body and multiply, you will get sick with TB disease.
When TB germs are active (multiplying in your body), this is
called TB disease. These germs usually attack the lungs. They
can also attack other parts of the body, such as the kidneys, brain,
or spine. TB disease will make you sick. People with TB
disease may spread the germs to people they spend time with
How was I exposed to TB?
You may have been exposed to TB if you spent time near someone
with TB disease of the lungs or throat. You can only get infected by
breathing in TB germs that person coughs into the air. You cannot
get TB from someone’s clothes, drinking glass, eating utensils,
handshake, toilet, or other surfaces where a TB patient has been.
How do I know if I have been infected with TB germs?
If you have been around someone who has TB disease, you should go
to your doctor or your local health department for tests.
There are two tests that can be used to help detect TB infection: a
skin test or a special TB blood test. The skin test is used most
A small needle is used to put some testing material, called
tuberculin, under the skin. In 2-3 days, you return to the health
worker who will check to see if there is a reaction to the test. In
some cases, a special TB blood test is given to test for TB
This blood test measures how a person’s immune system reacts to
the germs that cause TB.
To tell if someone has TB disease, other tests such as chest x-ray
and a sample of
sputum (phlegm that is coughed up from deep in the lungs) may be