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Latent tuberculosis is when a person infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis,but does not have symptoms . Active tuberculosis can be contagious while latent tuberculosis is not, and it is therefore not possible to get TB from someone with latent tuberculosis. The main risk is that approximately 10% of these people will go on to develop active tuberculosis. This is particularly true, when there is added risk, in situations such as medication that suppresses the immune system or advancing age.[1][2]

Signs and symptoms

There are no symptoms in Latent tuberculosis.[3]

Risk factors

Situations in which tuberculosis may become reactivated are: onset of a disease affecting the immune system such as AIDS,[4][5],malnutrition [6], and in elderly individuals[7] to name but a few.


We find in the pathophysiology of Latent tuberculosis that it is a balance between the immune system of the host and the invasiveness of M. tuberculosis. Any slight change of either would tip the balance that maintains it.[8]


Currently there is no “gold standard” test. Latent tuberculosis is evaluated based on the prescence of a immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens using the tuberculin skin test or interferon-gamma release assays.[9]

Differential diagnosis

The differential diagnosis is as follows in an affected individual:Nontuberculous mycobacterial infection, a resolved Tuberculosis infection and finally false-positive results may occur in those vaccinated with BCG.[10]


Management according to the World Health Organization is Isoniazid monotherapy for 6 months which is recommended in both adults and children (in countries with high and low TB incidence), this is one of several suggested treatment options per the WHO.[11]


About one-third of the world's population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not yet ill and cannot transmit the disease.[12]


The medical term “Latent tuberculosis infection” was first introduced by the Austrian pediatrician Clemens von Pirquet.[13]


  1. Esmail, H.; Barry, C. E.; Young, D. B.; Wilkinson, R. J. (19 June 2014). "The ongoing challenge of latent tuberculosis". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 369 (1645): 20130437. doi:10.1098/rstb.2013.0437. ISSN 0962-8436. Archived from the original on 25 October 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  2. Nuermberger, Eric; Bishai, William R.; Grosset, Jacques H. (June 2004). "Latent Tuberculosis Infection". Seminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 25 (3): 317–336. doi:10.1055/s-2004-829504. ISSN 1069-3424. Archived from the original on 2023-11-07. Retrieved 2023-11-04.
  3. "Tuberculosis (TB) - Latent TB Infection and TB Disease". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 11 December 2020. Archived from the original on 15 November 2022. Retrieved 17 January 2023.
  4. Qiu, Beibei; Wu, Zhuchao; Tao, Bilin; Li, Zhongqi; Song, Huan; Tian, Dan; Wu, Jizhou; Zhan, Mengyao; Wang, Jianming (March 2022). "Risk factors for types of recurrent tuberculosis (reactivation versus reinfection): A global systematic review and meta-analysis". International journal of infectious diseases: IJID: official publication of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. 116: 14–20. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2021.12.344. ISSN 1878-3511. Archived from the original on 2022-06-19. Retrieved 2023-11-07.
  5. "HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) | NIH". Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  6. Martin, Sherry Joseph; Sabina, Evan Prince (2019). "Malnutrition and Associated Disorders in Tuberculosis and Its Therapy". Journal of Dietary Supplements. 16 (5): 602–610. doi:10.1080/19390211.2018.1472165. ISSN 1939-022X. Archived from the original on 20 January 2023. Retrieved 5 November 2023.
  7. "Tuberculosis | Doctor". Patient. 2014-05-21. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  8. Gong, Wenping; Wu, Xueqiong (22 October 2021). "Differential Diagnosis of Latent Tuberculosis Infection and Active Tuberculosis: A Key to a Successful Tuberculosis Control Strategy". Frontiers in Microbiology. 12. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2021.745592.
  9. Muñoz, Laura; Stagg, Helen R.; Abubakar, Ibrahim (November 2015). "Diagnosis and Management of Latent Tuberculosis Infection: Table 1". Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. 5 (11): a017830. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a017830. PMID 26054858. Retrieved 22 May 2024.
  10. Price, Cody; Nguyen, Andrew D. (2024). "Latent Tuberculosis". StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
  11. "Treatment options for latent tuberculosis infection". Latent tuberculosis infection: updated and consolidated guidelines for programmatic management [Internet]. World Health Organization. 2018. Retrieved 23 May 2024.
  12. "WHO | Tuberculosis". 2015-03-09. Archived from the original on 2012-08-23. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  13. Migliori, Giovanni Battista; Ong, Catherine W.M.; Petrone, Linda; D'Ambrosio, Lia; Centis, Rosella; Goletti, Delia (September 2021). "The definition of tuberculosis infection based on the spectrum of tuberculosis disease". Breathe. 17 (3): 210079. doi:10.1183/20734735.0079-2021.