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Tuberculosis

TB transmission

09/03/2008

Question:

My friend has TB in the lymphnodes. It spread to the lungs. Is it dangerous to be with him? Since the TB didn`t start in the lungs, it`s not infectious, but do I have any chance of getting it? People are scaring me saying that I could.

Answer:

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that can be contagious when spread by the airborne route, but it is usually only contagious if the disease involves the lungs or larynx (voice box) so that coughing, sneezing, speaking or singing creates an aerosol of bacteria that can survive in the air to infect other people. If your friend's chest x-ray was normal and if cultures of his sputum aren't growing Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the risk of being infected with TB by sharing the same airspace with him is small. If you are worried, please see your own doctor to get a TB skin test placed (optimally about 12 weeks after the last exposure before your friend started TB medications) to see whether or not you have TB infection.

For more information:

Go to the Tuberculosis health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Lisa A Haglund, MD Lisa A Haglund, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati