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Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. Tb), also called 'the tubercle bacillus'.

It most commonly affects the lungs, but can affect any part of the body. It is most commonly spread through droplets in the air produced when someone with the infection in their lungs coughs or sneezes. It is not highly infectious, generally requiring prolonged close contact with an infectious person, for example living in the same household. It may take many years before someone infected with TB develops the full disease. TB worldwide is a massive problem.

In England and Wales, cases have increased 27% in the last 10 years. Around 7,000 cases are now reported each year. TB is curable with a course of special antibiotics taken for at least 6 months.

The most important part of controlling TB is identifying and treating those who already have the disease, to shorten their infection and to stop it being passed on to other people.


copyright: © | updated: 3 March, 2003





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