Tuberculosis | Overview

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What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (say: too-burr-cue-low-sis), also called TB, is an infection caused by a bacteria (germ). Tuberculosis usually affects the lungs, but it can spread to the joints, bladder, spine, brain and other parts of the body.

 There are 2 types of TB:

  • TB infection: The bacteria is present but is not making you sick or contagious; you are not able to spread the disease. TB infection is also called latent TB or inactive TB.
  • Active TB: The bacteria is present and is causing symptoms; you may be able to spread the disease.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/10
Created: 11/96

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