Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious disease caused by TB bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which can reproduce and spread throughout your body damaging tissue. The bacteria most often affects the lungs, but can involve any part of the body.
TB bacteria is spread from person to person through the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs coughs, speaks or sings. TB in other parts of the body is usually not infectious.
Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. There are two TB types/conditions: latent TB infection and active TB disease.
TB bacteria can live in the body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection (LTBI). Most people who breathe in the bacteria and become infected are able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. The TB bacteria lie dormant in the body. People do not feel sick and cannot spread the infection to others. However, people with LTBI need to receive treatment to prevent the disease from becoming active disease.
TB bacteria can become active if the immune system can’t stop them from growing. When TB bacteria are active, they multiply in your body and this is called TB disease. People with TB disease usually feel sick and have weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. People with tuberculosis in their lungs, can spread the bacteria to other people whom which they spend time with every day.
Mantoux (Tuberculosis screening skin test) testing is available in situations where a Mantoux may be needed are for employment in a health care setting, post-secondary school enrollment in health care programs, or if you are identified as a contact in a TB investigation. The test is placed and then read 48-72 hours later.
The Minnesota Department of Health Tuberculosis Medication Program provides free medication for individuals with active TB disease and LTBI. Disease Prevention and Control Public Health Nurses assist with accessing these medications and providing case management services for people receiving these medications.