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Basic Facts about Tuberculosis (TB)

The Department of Intercommunity Health would like to provide the residents of Delaware County
with the following information regarding tuberculosis:

“TB” is short for tuberculosis.  TB is a disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidneys, spine and brain.  If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another.  The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings.  People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

TB is NOT spread by

  • shaking someone’s hand
  • sharing food or drink
  • touching bed linens or toilet seats
  • sharing toothbrushes
  • kissing

Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick.  As a result, two TB-related conditions exist:  latent TB infection and active TB disease.  Latent TB means TB bacteria can live in your body without making you sick.  TB disease occurs when TB bacteria are active (multiplying in your body).

The Pennsylvania Department of Health provides TB screening and treatment to TB patients, suspected patients, those exposed to TB and others and high risk.

For more information on TB, its symptoms, transmission, testing and treatment please visit:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Pennsylvania Department of Health

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