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Tuberculosis

TB

09/14/2007

Question:

For the past 20 years I have been positive to TB skin test. I did all the questionaries, and had x-rays done. I don`t seem to have the symtoms of TB. As a baby I was vacinated for TB in my native country South America. I would like to know if I could get TB from infected people or not?

Answer:

Yes, you could. TB is acquired by inhaling Mycobacterium tuberculosis germs that someone else has coughed into the air. TB is a huge problem in most of the world, in countries where facilities to diagnose and treat TB disease are not adequate to take care of the number of people who are sick with TB. The BCG vaccine is given to infants in countries with high TB disease rates to help protect children from having severe forms of TB, such as TB of the brain or of the spine, after they inhale the germs and get infected. The BCG vaccine does not do a very good job of keeping adults from getting sick with TB later in life. And the BCG vaccine doesn’t prevent you from inhaling TB germs, if you are breathing in a place where someone else has just coughed some TB germs into the air.

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Response by:

Lisa A Haglund, MD Lisa A Haglund, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati