Tuberculosis: How it spreads
Tuberculosis (often called TB) is an infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs. TB is spread through the air from one person to another when someone who is infected with active TB disease coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in the 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
It is not easy to become infected with TB. Usually a person has to be in close contact with TB disease for a long period of time. A person with TB disease may feel perfectly healthy or may only have a cough from time to time. If you think you have been exposed to TB, talk to your doctor about a TB skin test.