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Tuberculosis

Can tuberculosis of the lungs keep recurring?

05/27/2011

Question:

I have a friend (57) who gets sick for months at a time, is bedridden, and profoundly fatigued. He says it is due to a non contagious form of tuberculosis that just keeps coming back. He did have TB as a child which was treated and he had no symptoms for most of his life until two years ago. He has also been diagnosed with bi-polar disease and I am wondering if these long bouts of illness are due more to depression that TB. Is there such a thing as non contagious TB? He says it is a rare form that usually only birds get. I can`t find any information to verify what he is telling me.

Answer:

It is possible for tuberculosis to be non contagious if it occurs in parts of the body outside of the lungs (for example the kidneys or bone). There are also infections caused by bacteria that are similar to tuberculosis and are not contagious to others. These include mycobacterium avium ("bird TB"), mycobacterium kansasii, and many others.

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Response by:

Catherine A Curley, MD, MS Catherine A Curley, MD, MS
Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University