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Tuberculosis (TB) Facts

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1 Tuberculosis (TB) Facts
Written By: Amanda Dukes, R.N.

2 What is TB? Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) , the bacteria usually attack 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

3 How is TB Spread? TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The primary mode of transmission for TB is inhalation. When a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs or sneezes, individuals nearby may become infected by breathing in the bacteria.

4 Are there different types of TB?
There are two types of TB infections: 1. Active TB 2. Latent TB Active TB is very contagious to others Latent TB does not spread to others, however the person is infected with TB.

5 The Difference Between Latent TB and Active TB
A person with Latent TB: Has no symptoms Does not feel sick Cannot spread TB bacteria to others Usually has a positive skin test Has a normal chest x-ray and a negative sputum smear Needs treatment for latent TB infection to prevent active TB disease

6 The Difference Between Latent TB and Active TB cont.
A Person with Active TB: Has symptoms that may include: - a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer pain in the chest coughing up blood or sputum weakness or fatigue weight loss no appetite chills fever sweating at night Usually feels sick May Spread TB to others Usually has a positive skin test May have an abnormal chest x-ray or a positive sputum smear or culture. Needs medical treatment

7 How is TB Diagnosed? Latent TB is often discovered when you have a positive reaction to a tuberculin skin test or blood test. Active TB is diagnosed by finding the TB-causing bacteria in a sputum sample (fluid from the lungs) or in samples from other parts of the body. Doctors sometime use a chest X-ray to help diagnose active TB. Extrapulmonary TB (or TB found outside the lungs) is diagnosed by a biopsy and culture, CT scan, or MRI.

8 The TB Skin Test The Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST) is a method used to determine if a person is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. You have a POSITIVE TB skin test when you have a red bump (raised/swollen area) at the needle site. You need to have a skin test reaction measured by a health professional within 2 to 3 days after the test

9 Can Latent TB turn into Active TB?
People who have latent TB are at risk of developing active TB if they: Have a condition or disease that weakens the immune system, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, some cancers, or poorly controlled diabetes. Have poor access to health care, such as homeless people, migrant farm workers, or people who abuse alcohol or drugs. Take medications that contain corticosteroids for a long period of time. Have a condition that results in an impaired immune system, which can occur in older adults, newborns, women who have recently given birth, or people who have had an organ transplant and are taking medications to prevent organ rejection. Have a chronic lung disease caused by inhaling sand-like dust (silicosis). Measure 10% or more under their healthy body weight

10 Prevent Latent TB from becoming Active TB
Usually, treatment with isoniazid for about 9 months or rifampin for 6 months can prevent a latent TB infection from developing into active TB. Treatment is recommended for anyone who has a positive skin and is especially important for people who: Are known to or are likely to be infected with the HIV. Have close contact with a person who has active TB. Have a chest X-ray that suggests a TB infection, and they have not had a complete course of treatment. Inject illegal drugs. Have a medical condition or take medications that weaken the immune system. Have had a tuberculin skin test within the past 2 years that was negative but now have a positive test.

11 How is TB treated? Doctors generally use a combination of 4 antibiotics to treat active TB, whether it occurs in the lungs or elsewhere. Medications for active TB must be taken for at least 6 months. Almost all people who take their medications as directed are cured. If tests continue to show positive results, treatment is extended for 8 to 9 months. One antibiotic taken for 9 months is the usual treatment for latent TB. This prevents the infection from becoming active and reduces the risk of complications.

12 How is TB treated? cont. If you miss doses of medication or you stop treatment too soon, your treatment may go on longer or you may have to start over. This can also cause the infection to get worse or lead to antibiotic-resistant infections that are much harder to treat. A cure for TB requires you to take all doses of the antibiotics. Direct observational treatment ensures that people follow medication instructions. If active TB is not treated, it can damage the lungs or other organs and can possibly cause death.

13 What increases your risk of getting TB?
People are at increased risk of infection with TB when they: Have close contact with someone who has active TB, which can be spread to others. Care for people who have untreated TB, such as health professionals. Live or work in crowded conditions where they can come into contact with people who may have active TB. This includes people who live or work in prisons, nursing homes, military barracks, or homeless shelters. Travel to or from regions where untreated TB is common, such as Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Russia. Have poor access to health care, such as homeless people, migrant farm workers, or people who abuse alcohol or drugs.

14 Decreasing your risk of getting TB?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one-third of the world's population is infected with the bacteria that causes TB. To avoid getting an active TB infection: Do not spend long periods of time in stuffy, enclosed rooms with anyone who has active TB until that person has been treated for at least 2 weeks. Use protective measures, such as face masks, if you work in a facility that cares for people who have untreated TB. Ask your doctor how to prevent TB from spreading to others if you live with someone who has active TB. Help and encourage the person who has TB to follow the treatment instructions.


16 When to Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor immediately if you have: Symptoms (such as an ongoing cough with fever, fatigue, and weight loss) that could be caused by TB. Been in close contact with someone who has untreated active TB, which can be spread to others, or you have had lengthy close contact with someone you think has untreated active TB. Blurred vision or color blindness and are taking ethambutol for TB. Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice) or you have abdominal pain and you are taking isoniazid or other medications for TB.

17 Home Treatment Home treatment for TB) focuses on taking the medications correctly to reduce the risk of developing multidrug-resistant TB. Keep all medical your appointments, take your medications as prescribed, and report any side effects of the medications, especially vision problems. If you plan to move during the time that you are being treated, let your health professional know so that arrangements can be made for you to continue the treatment. Home treatment includes: Eating a balanced diet to provide your body with the nutrients that you need to fight the infection. If you need help, ask to talk with a registered dietitian. Covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Until you have been on antibiotics for about 2 weeks, you can easily spread the disease to others. After coughing, dispose of the soiled tissue in a covered container. Talk with your health professional about other precautions you can take to prevent the spread of TB.


19 For More Information Visit the Texas Health and Human Services:
Website: Phone number: (512) or Visit the Center for Disease Control Website: Phone number: (800)

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