CDC Tuberculosis (TB) Transmission and Pathogenesis Video
Tuberculosis, also known as TB, is spread through the air from one person to another. When someone with pulmonary TB disease coughs, TB bacteria are expelled into the air in tiny water droplets. These droplets can remain floating in the air for several hours making it possible for someone nearby to inhale them. Once a person has breathed in droplets that contain TB bacteria, they travel down the trachea and enter the lungs where they collect in the alveolar sacs. Once in the alveolar sacs, the bacteria begin to multiply. The body's immune system starts working and macrophages begin to surround the bacteria. A granuloma is formed to keep the bacteria from spreading.
The TB bacteria remain in the lungs, but the body is protected from disease by the granuloma. In 8 to 10 weeks, the person will most likely test positive for latent TB Infection. The progression from latent TB infection to TB disease occurs when the granuloma break open and the TB bacteria multiply. Then the person becomes sick with TB disease and may be infectious.
This progression can occur immediately after infection, many years later, or not at all. When the TB escapes from the granuloma and begins destroying a person's lungs it's called pulmonary TB. TB bacteria can also enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body causing extrapulmonary TB.
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