Healthy People 2020 Goals
Increase the proportion of all tuberculosis patients who complete curative therapy within 12 months
TB is short for a disease called tuberculosis. TB is spread by tiny bacteria that can float in the air. The TB bacteria may spray into the air if a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, shouts or sneezes. Anyone nearby can breathe TB bacteria into their lungs.
TB bacteria can live in your body without making you sick. This is called TB "infection". Your immune system traps TB bacteria with special germ fighters. Your germ fighters keep TB bacteria from making you sick.
But sometimes, the TB bacteria can break away and spread. Then the bacteria cause TB "disease". The bacteria can attack the lungs or other parts of the body. They can go to the kidneys, the brain or the spine. If anyone has TB disease, they need medical help. If they don't get help, they can spread the disease to others and even die from the illness.
How do you know you have a TB infection? First, a health professional will perform a risk assessment to determine possible exposure to a TB infection. If risk factors have been identified, a skin test will be performed. The test is usually done on the arm. A small needle is used to put some testing material, called tuberculin, under the skin. In two or three days, a health professional will check to see if there is a reaction to the test. If there is a positive reaction to the test, you may have a TB infection. You may need medications to keep from getting sick.