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TB Still Lingers

Tuberculosis (TB) is still present in Genesee County even though it may have been more common to your parents or grandparents. It is a contagious disease that is spread by tiny bacteria that float in the air. The bacteria get into the air when an infectious person coughs, sneezes, talks, laughs, or sings. People nearby may breathe the bacteria into their lungs and become infected. TB is not spread by body contact such as shaking hands or by touching drinking glasses, clothing or toilet seats.

The only way to know if someone has TB is by a skin test on the arm. The area is checked 48 to 72 hours later. The test is positive if a bump about the size of a pencil eraser or larger, appears at the injection site. Testing positive for TB doesn’t mean that a person is sick. Most people who are infected are not sick. Frequently the body can fight the bacteria and stop them from growing. The bacteria becomes dormant and the infected person will not have symptoms. They cannot spread TB to others at this point. The infection can remain dormant for years or a lifetime.

Sometimes the TB bacteria becomes active, causing disease. TB usually attacks the lungs and throat. If treatment is not given, the person becomes very ill, and can spread the disease to others. Symptoms include a cough, chest pain, coughing up blood, weakness, fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever and night sweats.

If a person has active or dormant TB, it can be treated and cured. Some types of TB are harder to treat and cure. For more information call the Genesee County Health Department at (810) 257-1017.