What is TB?
TB is short for the lung disease: tuberculosis. Tuberculosis, once known as "consumption," is an ancient scourge that continues to kill millions. It was finally brought under control in the U.S. in 1952 after a drug, Isoniazid (INH) was developed. Due to AIDS and other factors, tuberculosis has seen occasional increases in recent years. It is important to remember that if not fully treated with antibiotics, TB can still be fatal.
TB is contagious, which means you can catch it from another person with active TB. Like a cold, the disease is spread through the air when the ill person sneezes or coughs. However, you cannot catch TB through casual contact. You must have close, prolonged contact in order to become infected.
A person with TB may:
- Have a cough that won't go away
- Cough up blood
- Feel weak all the time
- Have a fever
- Lose weight
- Night sweats
Tuberculosis is still the world's leading killer by an infectious agent. Worldwide, it remains a big problem in Africa, Asia, and South America.
If you suspect you have TB, you should get a TB test from your doctor as soon as possible.