Watch TB every day   

Watch TB Every Day


How to keep tuberculosis from spreading


Tuberculosis or "TB" is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB usually affects the lungs but it can also affect other parts of the body, including the glands, the bones and, rarely, the brain.

Symptoms can include any of the following:

1. Fever and night sweats

2. Cough (generally lasting more than two weeks)

3. Weight loss

4. Blood in the sputum (phlegm) at any time

Someone with any of these symptoms should visit their family doctor for advice.

The most important way to keep from spreading TB is to take all your medications exactly as instructed by your doctor or nurse. You should also keep all of your clinic appointments. Your doctor or nurse needs to see how you are doing. You may need another chest x-ray or a test of the phlegm you may cough up. These tests will show whether the medicine is working. They will also show whether you can still give TB bacteria to others. Be sure to tell the doctor about anything you think is wrong.


If you are sick enough to go to a hospital, you may be put in a special room. These rooms use air vents that keep TB bacteria from spreading. People who work in these rooms must wear a special facemask to protect themselves from TB bacteria. You must stay in the room so that you will not sp read TB bacteria to other people. Ask a nurse if you need anything that is not in your room.

If you are infectious while staying at home, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself and others near you. Your doctor may tell you to follow these guidelines to protect yourself and others:

1. The most important thing is to take your medicine.

2. Always cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough, sneeze or laugh. Put the tissue in a closed paper sack and throw it away.

3. Do not go to work or school. Separate yourself from others and avoid close contact with anyone. Sleep in a bedroom away from other family members.

4. Air out your room often (if it is not too cold outside). TB spreads in small closed spaces where air doesn't move. Put a fan in your window to blowout (exhaust) air that may be filled with TB bacteria. If you open other windows in the room, the fan also will pull in fresh air. This will reduce the chances that TB bacteria stay in the room and infect someone who breathes the air.


Another type of TB called bovine tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium bovis can arise from drinking contaminated milk. This form of TB is now rare, as pasteurization of milk kills the bacteria.


TB is usually spread in the air from another person who has TB of the lungs. It is spread through coughing, sneezing or spitting. Only some people with TB in the lungs are infectious to other people; these cases are called "sputum smear positive" or "open" cases. Even then, infection only occurs with close and prolonged contact with such a person (i.e., family member, friend, nanny, co-worker). Most sputum smear positive cases stop being infectious after about two weeks of treatment.

Remember, TB is spread through the air. People cannot get infected with TB bacteria through handshakes, sitting on toilet seats or sharing dishes and utensils with someone who has TB.

After you take medicine for about two or three weeks, you may no longer be able to spread TB bacteria to others. If your doctor or nurse agrees, you will be able to go back to your daily routine.


Remember, you will get well only if you take your medicine exactly as your doctor or nurse tells you. Think about people who may have spent time with you, such as family members, close friends and co-workers. The local health department may need to test them for TB is especially dangerous for children and people with HIV infection. If infected with TB bacteria, these people need preventive therapy right away to keep from developing TB disease.

Those at risk

The following people have a greater chance of becoming ill with TB, if exposed to it:

1. Those in every close contact with infectious people

2. Children

3. Elderly people

4. Diabetics

5. People on steroids

6. People on other drugs affecting the body's defense system

7. People who are HIV-positive

8. People in overcrowded, poor alcohol

9. People with chronic poor health

TB Treatment on the dot

Yes, today TB is completely curable. And the best way to do it is with DOTS-directly observed treatment short-course. Efficient and inexpensive, DOTS is proven to cure and prevent the spread of TB in even the poorest countries. Millions of death could be prevented through the widespread use of DOTS.
DOTS is a TB program through which patients receive six to eight months of treatment free. A key principle is that every dose of medicine taken is observed and recorded by an authorized person for at least the first two months. This is to ensure that patients take all their medicine. A treatment observer is anyone willing, trained and accountable to the TB control program. Most patients can be treated at home or at a clinic, avoiding costly hospital stays.
Ask your local health department about DOTS.


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