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Tuberculosis (or TB) is an infectious disease, usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria.[1] TB generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body.[1]



Most people affected by TB do not have symptoms, and the disease is not active. This is called latent tuberculosis.[1] However, about 10% of latent infections progress to active disease, which, if left untreated, kills about half of those affected.[1]

Chronic cough

The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough, with blood containing sputum, a fever, night sweats, and weight loss.[1]

Weight loss

The last symptom of weight loss can be so pronounced that it gave TB it historic name of "consumption".[3]

Other infections

Infection of other organs can cause a wide range of symptoms, including weakness, night sweats, and swollen lymph nodes.[4]


Active TB in the lungs is very contagious. In fact, it is so infectious that a person can spread it through the air, by something as simple as coughing, spitting, speaking or sneezing.[1][5]

Active infections

And active infection is more likely to occur in people with HIV or AIDS, those who are immunocompromised, and in those who smoke.[1]

Latent TB

On the other hand, people with latent TB do not spread the disease.[1]


Diagnosis of active TB is based on chest X-rays, as well as microscopic examination, and culture of body fluids.[6]

Diagnosis of latent TB

Diagnosis of latent TB is made using the tuberculin skin test (which is also called the Mantoux skin test), or blood tests.[6]


Prevention of TB involves screening those at high risk, early detection and treatment of cases, and prompt vaccination with the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine.[7][8][9] Those at high risk include household, workplace, and social contacts of people with active TB.[9]


Treatment requires the use of multiple antibiotics, over a long period of time.[1] Antibiotic resistance is making TB harder to treat, with increasing rates of multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (called MDR-TB), and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (called XDR-TB).[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 "Tuberculosis Fact sheet N°104". WHO. October 2015. Archived from the original on 23 August 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  2. "Tuberculosis (TB): symptoms, causes, treatment, medicine, prevention, diagnosis". myUpchar. Retrieved 2020-03-11.
  3. The Chambers Dictionary. New Delhi: Allied Chambers India Ltd. 1998. p. 352. ISBN 978-81-86062-25-8. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015.
  4. Dolin, [edited by] Gerald L. Mandell, John E. Bennett, Raphael (2010). Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's principles and practice of infectious diseases (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. p. Chapter 250. ISBN 978-0-443-06839-3.
  5. "Basic TB Facts". CDC. 13 March 2012. Archived from the original on 6 February 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Konstantinos A (2010). "Testing for tuberculosis". Australian Prescriber. 33 (1): 12–18. doi:10.18773/austprescr.2010.005. Archived from the original on 4 August 2010.
  7. Hawn TR, Day TA, Scriba TJ, Hatherill M, Hanekom WA, Evans TG, Churchyard GJ, Kublin JG, Bekker LG, Self SG (December 2014). "Tuberculosis vaccines and prevention of infection". Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews. 78 (4): 650–71. doi:10.1128/MMBR.00021-14. PMC 4248657. PMID 25428938.
  8. Harris, Randall E. (2013). Epidemiology of chronic disease: global perspectives. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 682. ISBN 978-0-7637-8047-0. {{cite book}}: External link in |ref= (help)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Organization, World Health (2008). Implementing the WHO Stop TB Strategy: a handbook for national TB control programmes. Geneva: World Health Organization. p. 179. ISBN 978-92-4-154667-6.