DefinitionTuberculosis (TB) is an infection. TB may be either active or latent. Latent forms can stay in your body and not make you sick. Latent TB may become active if you are ill, have a weakened immune system, or for no known reason.Active TB infection most is most common in the lungs, but it can occur in other places in the body.
CausesTB is a highly contagious disease caused by a specific bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is transmitted by air from one person to another. This can happen during coughing, sneezing, or talking. Once airborne, the bacteria can be breathed in by other people causing exposure or active infection. You can only pass the infection to other people if you have active TB.
|Pathway to the Lungs|
|Bacteria is inhaled through the mouth and nose and travels down into the lungs causing TB.|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
Risk FactorsInfants, young children, and older adults are more susceptible to TB.Factors that may increase your chance of TB exposure include:
- Close contact with a person infected with active TB
- Living in or traveling to an area where there are high rates of TB
- Working in certain occupations, such as farming, funeral homes, and healthcare
- Living or working in crowded, indoor conditions, such as prisons, hospitals, homeless shelters, or nursing homes
- Having been infected with TB bacteria in the last 2 years
- Chronic diseases that weaken the immune system:
- Certain medications that weaken or suppress the immune system, such as chemotherapy drugs that treat cancer or medication to prevent organ rejection.
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