How contagious is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is contagious but does not spread like cold or flu. Tuberculosis is a communicable disease and transmitted when an infected person sneezes, coughs, speaks or sings near a healthy person. However, healthy people have to spend several hours in close contact with an infected person to catch the infection. Your chance of acquiring the infection increases if you live with an infected person. It is highly unlikely to acquire tuberculosis by sitting next to an infected person for a few minutes.

Tuberculosis in lungs follows airborne transmission as it spreads when healthy people breathe infected body fluids through air when standing close to a person suffering from tuberculosis. However, people with tuberculosis in body parts other than lungs cannot spread the infection.

Besides this, tuberculosis can be active or latent. In active tuberculosis, bacteria infects the body to show symptoms, whereas in latent tuberculosis, bacteria infects the body but does not show any symptoms. The National Health Service website has shown that 10% people with latent tuberculosis eventually develop active tuberculosis to show symptoms.

Therefore, even though tuberculosis is not too contagious, it is recommended to take complete precautions while travelling to countries which are at a higher risk of tuberculosis. Also, avoid close contact with infected people or are coughing too much. Besides this, you should avoid living in crowded conditions or living with immunocompromised people.

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Disclaimer
Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can further read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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