Tuberculosis (TB)

NOTE: Have you received a letter or phone call from us? Call 210-207-8823 immediately.

TB is a bacteria that is spread through the air from one person to another. TB is spread through the air when someone who is sick with active TB coughs, speaks, laughs, sings, or sneezes. People that spend a significant amount of time near the sick person can breath TB into their lungs.

Latent TB Infection

TB can live in your body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection (LTBI). Persons with LTBI cannot spread the bacteria to others and are not ill. LTBI is diagnosed with a positive TB skin test, or a positive Interferon-Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) blood test, and a normal chest X-ray. Preventive medicine is recommended to kill the TB bacteria before it begins to multiply and make you ill with active TB disease.

Active TB Disease

TB can multiply in your body and make you ill. This is called active TB disease. TB usually attacks the lungs, but it can grow anywhere in your body. People with active TB disease may spread the bacteria to people they spend time with every day. Patients with active TB disease usually have a positive IGRA, a positive TB skin test, an abnormal chest X-ray, abnormal sputum (matter coughed up and usually ejected from the mouth, including saliva, foreign material, and substances such as mucus or phlegm, from the respiratory tracts) tests, and other symptoms. Only a doctor can tell you if you have active TB disease.

If active TB disease is in your lungs, you may:

  • cough a lot
  • cough up mucus or phlegm
  • cough up blood
  • have chest pain when you cough

Always cover your mouth when you cough!

If you have active TB disease, you may also:

  • feel weak
  • lose your appetite
  • lose weight
  • have a fever
  • sweat a lot at night

If you have active TB disease in another part of the body, the symptoms may be different. These symptoms may last for several weeks. Without treatment, they usually get worse.

Active TB Disease Treatment

Active TB disease can be treated by taking medicine. It is very important that people who have active TB disease finish their medicine and take their drugs exactly as they are told. If they stop taking the drugs too soon, they can become sick again. If they do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become difficult to treat with those drugs. It takes at least six months to kill all of the TB bacteria.

Reporting Requirements

State law requires health care professionals to report confirmed or suspected cases at the time of diagnosis.

Report Confirmed or Suspected TB Cases

All patients referred to the TB Prevention & Control Program will be case managed in a professional and confidential manner. Selected TB drugs are available to patients without charge.