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Tuberculosis

Occurrence of TB

05/29/2008

Question:

My friend has been infected with TB. She has been prescribed for medicines for 6 months. I want to know whether she will be completely cured after 6 or 9 months? Can she again get TB or not?

Answer:

If the person you are referring to is on Isoniazid to treat latent TB infection, then the 6 months regimen is 75% effective in preventing TB in the future and the 9 month regimen is about 93% effective in preventing TB in the future, based on the studies done previously.

If the person you are referring to has active tuberculosis infection and is taking a standard course of 4 drugs to treat TB, the 6 month course has a relapse rate of about 5% (which means the infection returns in about 5% of patients) whereas the 9 month course has a relapse rate of about 2-3%.

The above numbers all assume that the person we are talking about has been infected with a strain of tuberculosis that is sensitive to standard TB medication, i.e. not drug resistant tuberculosis. Knowing the country of origin would help in determining the chance of drug resistant disease.

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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