Tuberculosis or "TB" is a contagious disease that usually attacks the lungs, but can harm any other part of the body. It is caused by a bacteria that, once inside the body, grows very slowly. It loves warm, moist areas like your lungs.
TB is spread through the air. Whenever an infectious person coughs, speaks, sneezes or sings, TB germs are released into the air. If you spend a lot of day-to-day contact with an infectious person, you may breathe in some of their TB germs. TB is not spread by using dishes, drinking glasses, sheets or clothing of an infectious person.
Who Can Catch TB?
Anyone can get TB. There are some people who are called "high risk" and are more susceptible to developing tuberculosis if exposed. This may include persons with HIV, cancer and those who are homeless or in prison. Once a person becomes sick with TB Disease, a cavity may develop in the lungs causing the person to cough. Other symptoms may include: pain in the chest, fatigue and night sweats.
You can not tell a person has TB just by looking at them. You must go to your physician or local health department and ask for a TB skin test. The TB skin test does not give you TB and it is NOT like a flu vaccine that prevents you from becoming sick with tuberculosis.
What if the test is positive?
if your TB skin test is positive, it only means you have TB germs in your body. It can not tell your doctor if you have TB Disease. The doctor will probably order a chest x-ray to see if the germs have caused any damage to your lungs. If your chest x-ray is NORMAL and there are NO other SYMPTOMS, the TB germs are there, but your immune system has done its job and has made them inactive. While the germs are inactive, they can't be spread to other people. You are not contagious. Your physician may prescribe medication to kill the inactive germs and keep you from becoming sick with TB Disease. Usually this medicine is Isoniazid (INH) and it is prescribed for at least 6 months. Some patients may take it longer.
If the chest x-ray was ABNORMAL or if you have SYMPTOMS, the doctor may order more tests. He might ask you to cough up some fluid from your lungs. If your doctor tells you that you have TB Disease, you will need to take several drugs. Sometimes as many as four different kinds. This is because there are many TB germs in your body to be killed.
Am I Infectious?
if you have TB in your lungs or throat, you are probably infectious. Your doctor might possibly order a stay in the hospital for a short time until you are no longer infectious. This will prevent you from spreading TB germs to your friends and family. How long you stay in the hospital will be up to your doctor and your general health. Some people may stay longer than others.
TB germs die very slowly. It takes at least 6 months for the medicine to kill the germs. You may start to feel better after only a few weeks of treatment, BUT, the TB germs are STILL ALIVE in your system. If you don't continue to take your medicines as your doctor prescribed, you will be making the TB germs stronger instead of weaker. Stronger germs are harder to kill. Follow all of your doctor's instructions and you can beat TB.
TB is a serious illness, but one you can fight and WIN!!
Tuberculosis Program Statistics
number of active TB Cases diagnosed and reported upon incarceration
into TDCJ-ID and counted as residents of their county of origin.
number of active TB Cases reported during their incarceration and
counted as TDCJ cases.
Rate per 100,000 population