Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, laughs or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.
If you have a weakened immune system, sometimes the TB bacteria will spread and can attack the lungs or other parts of the body such as the kidneys, brain or spine. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal but TB is curable and preventable.
However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. This is called TB infection (also called Latent Tuberculosis Infection or LTBI). People with TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms and cannot spread TB to others.
General symptoms may include fever, chills, night sweats, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss. Symptoms of TB of the lungs may include a bad cough that lasts longer than three weeks, chest pain and/or coughing up blood. Other symptoms depend on the particular part of the body that is affected.
There are two kinds of tests that are used to detect TB bacteria in the body: the TB skin test (Tuberculin Skin Test also known as a TST) and TB blood tests. The TB blood test is now the recommended test.
The TB tests can be administered or ordered by your Primary Care Physician. (PCP).
More information on Tuberculosis can be found on the CDC website.