Henrico HD Tuberculosis Team

   
 
Ann Morgan, RN

TB Program Coordinator

 
Grace Hughes, RN

Public Health Nurse

       
   
 
Stephen Richard, MD

Clinical Director

 
Mehrima Matrood

TB Outreach Worker

Transmission

TB is a disease that primarily affects the lungs, but can affect any part of the body. A germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes the disease.

TB is spread through the air when an infected person sprays out droplets by coughing, speaking or singing. Some droplets don’t fall to the ground but remain suspended in the air, then break apart and leave very tiny germs. These germs must be inhaled and get down into the alveoli (tiny air sacs) of a person’s lungs for someone to become infected.

Active TB Disease

Active TB disease occurs in a person infected with the TB germ whose body’s immune system is not strong enough to either build a wall around the germs or to keep the wall from breaking down. When this happens, the germs “wake up” and start growing and multiplying. The person becomes sick and has symptoms of TB. The person will usually have a positive skin test and an abnormal chest x-ray. A culture of the person’s sputum will usually grow out the TB germ (M.tuberculosis). A person with active TB disease can spread the germs to other people if special medication isn’t taken. TB can be cured with proper medication and treatment. A contact investigation is done to identify, evaluate and treat anyone who might have been exposed to a person with active TB disease in order to prevent the spread of TB.

Symptoms of Tuberculosis

  • Productive cough – usually lasting more than 3 weeks
  • Unexplained fever
  • Night sweats
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Coughing up blood or blood streaked sputum

Latent TB Infection (LTBI)

In Latent TB Infection, a person has inhaled the germ and has become infected but the body’s immune system has built a wall around the germs. The germs are dormant or sleeping and do not grow and multiply. The person is not sick and does not have symptoms of TB. The person will usually have a positive reaction to a tuberculin skin test but will have a normal chest x-ray and will not have any symptoms of the disease. A person with LTBI cannot give the germ to anyone else. There is a 10% chance of becoming sick with active TB disease over a lifetime if medication is not taken. Medication is available to reduce the chance of a person with LTBI from becoming sick with active TB disease.

Related Links

How Does TB Spread?
What is the Difference Between Latent TB Infection (LTBI) and TB Disease?
What Should I Do if I Have Been Exposed to Someone with TB Disease?
How is TB Treated?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Patient Education Links  
Multi-language TB Education Links