Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterial pathogen called Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the TB bacillus). In most people, TB affects their lungs.When TB affects the lungs, the disease is the most contagious, but a person will usually only become sick after close contact with someone who has this type of TB.

The risk of developing active TB:

  • anyone with a weakened immune system
  • anyone who first developed the infection in the past 2–5 years
  • older adults and young children
  • people who use injected recreational drugs
  • people who have not received appropriate treatment for TB in the past

A person should see a doctor if:

  • a persistent cough, lasting at least 3 weeks
  • phlegm, which may have blood in it, when they cough
  • a loss of appetite and weight
  • a general feeling of fatigue and being unwell
  • swelling in the neck
  • fever
  • night sweats
  • chest pain

They can spread through the air in droplets when a person with pulmonary TB coughs, sneezes, spits, laughs, or talks.


  1. Get tested

    Disease prevention always starts with you. Testing for tuberculosis is simple, and is sometimes required for travel or job applications. It’s always a good thing to have on your medical records and not in your lungs.

  2. Spread awareness

    Many people with TB don’t even know they have it. Latent tuberculosis can lie dormant for years without a single symptom. This is why it’s important to spread awareness about how to get tested and treated. With any disease, prevention is the best cure.

  3. Volunteer or donate

    Events are held to spread awareness and raise funds all around the world on World Tuberculosis Day. If you can’t find one, organise one yourself. There are many organisations dedicated to the eradication of TB that are always looking for volunteers and donations.


Ways of preventing TB from infecting others include:

  • getting a diagnosis and treatment early
  • staying away from other people until there is no longer a risk of infection
  • wearing a mask, covering the mouth, and ventilating rooms