Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection. It can attack almost any part of the body, but TB most typically attacks the lungs. TB is contagious, potentially recurrent and can last for years without proper treatment. Tuberculosis germs spread easily through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Elderly people, babies, people with AIDS, people living in crowded and/or unsanitary conditions, and drug or alcohol abusers are most vulnerable to tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis goes through three stages. The first stage is either symptom-free or full of flu-like symptoms; the second stage consists of fever, weight loss, profuse sweating, and fatigue; the third stage consists of bloody or pus-filled cough, and difficulty breathing.
A CT chest scan can confirm a suspected case of TB. Anyone in close contact with the patient should be tested, too. Once a patient has been found to have TB, he or she must go on medication for up to a year. He or she will also have to be quarantined for the first few days of medical treatment. Left untreated, TB can damage the lungs and other organs, even leading to death.