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Tuberculosis (too-bur-kyuh-LOH-suhss), or TB, is a disease caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine. A person with TB can die if they do not get treatment.
The general symptoms of TB disease include:
- Feelings of sickness or weakness
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
Other symptoms of TB depend on the parts of the body affected. With TB of the lungs, symptoms also can include coughing, chest pain, and coughing up blood.
If you have symptoms of TB or if you have been around someone who has TB disease, go to your doctor or health department for tests. TB can be treated and cured.
Asian-Americans have the highest TB rates of any group in the United States. Their TB rates are about 22 times greater than the rate for non-Hispanic whites. Asian-Americans who have recently come to the United States have even higher rates. In the United States, people born overseas are about 11 times more likely to have TB than those born here. The good news is that TB rates have been going down. But, they are not going down as fast as they once were. So TB is still a serious health concern.
Explore other publications and websites
Questions and Answers About TB — This booklet talks about how active and latent tuberculosis is spread, testing, vaccinations, and exposure to TB.
Tuberculosis (Copyright © American Lung Association) — This publication discusses the difference between TB infection and TB disease, symptoms of TB, modes of transmission, testing, and innovative treatment options.
Tuberculosis Fact Sheets and Brochures by Language — This internet site discusses tuberculosis disease and infection, as well as tests for and treatment of tuberculosis. Translated materials are available in Amharic, Arabic, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Cambodian, Hmong, Lao, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tibetan, and Vietnamese.
Tuberculosis: Getting Healthy, Staying Healthy — This booklet explains tuberculosis and how it is spread, diagnosed, and treated.
Connect with other organizations
American Association for Respiratory Care
American Lung Association
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination, NCHSTP, CDC, OPHS, HHS
National Prevention Information Network, CDC
Office of Minority Health, HHS
Content last updated March 1, 2012.
Resources last updated May 18, 2010.
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