Precautions in Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a bacterial disease that typically affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. A person of any age can get TB. It is highly contagious but can be prevented.

  1. Prevention

    • Preventative measures can include administering the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine and reducing exposure to someone who is infectious. Those who have been exposed to a person with TB should be tested for latent tuberculosis.
      A health-care worker exposed to a patient with TB should have a PPD skin test, even if she has been vaccinated. Typically, when a patient is found to have TB, he is isolated, and health-care workers wear masks and gloves while in contact with the patient.

    Important Information

    • A person who has latent tuberculosis carries the disease but has not yet developed any symptoms, which include fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss and a persistent cough.
      A person with untreated TB spreads the infection by coughing and sneezing. Prolonged exposure to someone with TB can also spread the disease. Anyone diagnosed with active TB remains contagious for at least several weeks after the start of treatment.
      Friends and family members should use extreme caution, getting the doctor's OK before coming in contact with the infected person and wearing masks and gloves during that contact. Anyone who has been in contact with an infected person should have a skin test every one to two years.

    Other Prevention Tips

    • Always cover your mouth and nose when coughing, particularly in public and the workplace or school. This is an important habit, even if no one around you has TB. Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, using warm water and a good antibacterial soap. Soap should be scrubbed into the hands for at least 20 to 30 seconds each time. Wash your hands before and after meals and after using the bathroom. Also wash your hands after coughing and sneezing.

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