About Tuberculosis (TB)
TB is a disease, caused by bacteria, that can spread from one person to another. Most often TB affects the lungs, but you can find it in any part of the body.
TB bacteria spreads through the air in tiny droplets when a person who is sick with TB in their lungs coughs, sneezes, or speaks.
If you breathe in these droplets, one of three things can happen:
- You do not get infected with TB bacteria, OR
- You get infected with TB bacteria, and your body controls it (called latent TB infection), OR
- You get infected with TB bacteria, but your body does not control it and you get sick (called active TB disease).
Latent TB infection can turn into active TB disease. That is why getting tested and taking medicine for prevention is important.
Symptoms of active TB disease may include:
People with latent TB infection do not have any symptoms. Learn more about the difference between latent TB infection and TB disease.
If you have one or more of the following risk factors, you have a greater chance of getting TB:
- Lived or spent time in a country where TB is common (PDF). Opens a New Window.
- Lived or spent time with someone with active TB disease
- Lived or worked in a congregate setting (such as a shelter, jail, long-term care or assisted living facility)
- Worked in a healthcare setting
- Homeless within the last two years
- Drug user
- Baby or child who has spent time with an adult with any of the risk factors listed above
BCG Does Not Prevent TB
Unlike many vaccines that are very good at preventing disease, the bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine has limited benefits. It prevents the most serious TB symptoms in infants and young children. It does NOT prevent you from getting TB infection if you are exposed or developing active TB disease if you have TB infection.
There are two tests that can tell if you have TB bacteria in your body: a skin test and a blood test.
- Visit a Loudoun County Health Clinic or your medical provider.
Latent TB infection and active TB disease can be treated and cured by taking all the medicine your medical provider orders.