Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that is transmitted from person to person by respiratory secretions in the air.
To spread, an infected person coughs or sneezes, and small respiratory droplets are inhaled by a healthy person. Not everyone who is exposed to the bacteria will become infected.
Tuberculosis is often called TB and is a tricky bacteria in that some people who become infected get sick quickly, while some people harbor the bacteria their systems without becoming ill right away. Worldwide, TB is a common cause of infection and death. In the United States, TB is less common thanks to access to treatment and good screening protocols. TB is known for causing lung disease but can affect nearly any organ in the body. Testing for TB is done when any exposures are noted and involves placing a Tuberculin Skin Test (also known as a PPD) and/or a chest X-ray.