Tuberculosis (TB)

  • Serious disease caused by bacteria
  • Bacteria goes to the lung first, but can also go to many other parts of the body.
  • Found all over the world. Although TB is not common in Canada, there are new cases here every year


  • TB infection means the TB bacteria has entered a person’s body, but their immune system has trapped the bacteria by building a wall around them.
  • This is also known as “Inactive TB” or “Latent TB”.
  • A TB skin test (TST, Mantoux skin test) is used to tell if a person has Inactive TB.
  • The person does not feel sick and cannot pass the infection to anyone else.
  • The person does not have active TB disease.
  • Only 5-10 % of people infected with the TB bacteria will develop TB disease


  • TB disease means the TB bacteria are multiplying and the person is sick.  This is also called “Active TB”.
  • The immune system has not been able to keep the bacteria contained within the walls. Some reasons why this might occur are: poor eating, stress, and medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer and HIV/AIDS
  • Persons with active TB in their lungs can spread the bacteria to others


  • A person with TB in their lungs coughs or sneezes and the bacteria are forced out into the air.
  • You can get TB if you spend long periods of time with a person who has TB, by breathing the air into your own lungs.  TB is not very contagious. Close and regular contact is needed.

Signs and Symptoms

A person with active TB may:

  • Have a cough that won’t go away
  • Not want to eat
  • Feel tired
  • Lose weight
  • Have a fever
  • Sweat during the night


  • TB infection and TB disease can be cured by taking medicine (antibiotics) every day for 6 to 12 months to kill the TB .
  • The Health Unit works with people to make sure that they get the medicine they need free-of-charge, and that they complete the whole treatment.

Tuberculosis is a reportable disease and must be reported to the Local Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.