Tuberculosis

[too-bur-kyuh-LOH-sis]

Physician talking with senior man, both are wearing masks

Tuberculosis, or TB disease, is highly contagious and can be deadly. TB can live in your body for years without symptoms. This is called inactive TB or latent TB infection. Inactive TB can become active TB disease at any time, which can make you sick and spread to other people. Anyone can get TB, but some people are at a higher risk than others. Learn about your risk for TB and talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested.

Key Facts

  • Despite being preventable and curable, too many people still suffer from TB disease in the United States.
  • TB germs are spread through the air when someone with active TB disease coughs, talks, or sings.
  • Up to 13 million people in the United States live with inactive TB, which if left untreated can develop into active TB disease.
  • Symptoms of active TB disease include a cough lasting longer than 3 weeks, fever, night sweats, and/or weight loss.
  • Both inactive TB and TB disease can be treated.

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Think. Test. Treat TB.
Think. Test. Treat TB.

If you are at risk for TB, talk to your doctor. The good news is that simple testing can determine if you have inactive TB, and there are several short and convenient treatment options that can protect you from getting sick. Think. Test. Treat TB to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community.

Doctor explaining something to patient and using hands
Think About Your Risk

Anyone can get TB, but you have a higher risk for TB if you: recently spent time with someone who has active TB disease, were born in or frequently travel to countries where TB disease is common, work or live in places with high risk for TB transmission, or live or used to live in large group settings where TB is more common. Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk for TB.

Hand holding blood in test tube
Get Tested for TB

There is a TB blood test and a TB skin test for TB infection. TB blood tests are the preferred method of TB testing for people who have received the TB vaccine (BCG). Public and private healthcare plans may cover the costs of TB testing. Your healthcare provider can recommend the right TB test for you.

Portrait of happy big Vietnamese family sitting on sofa and smiling at camera
Get Treated for TB

Without treatment, inactive TB can progress to active TB disease. If not treated properly, active TB disease can be fatal. Talk to your healthcare provider about TB testing and treatment to protect yourself, your family and friends, and your community.

Prevention Tips

  • If you are at risk for TB, talk to your healthcare provider about testing for TB to protect yourself, your family and friends, and your community.
  • Ask your healthcare provider which TB test is right for you, especially if you have received the TB vaccine (BCG).
  • If you have inactive TB, short and convenient treatments are available that can help protect you from developing TB disease.
  • If you are taking medicines for inactive TB or active TB disease, take them as directed by your healthcare providers.
Page last reviewed: August 12, 2022