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Apr 20, 1998

Dear Rick,

My wife has TB is presently receiveing treatment. I wish to know precisely how TB is spread.

I understand that it is contagious only from someone who has active TB. When this person coughs the bacteria is airborne and contagious. Could you let me know how long can the airborne bacteria survive & how far can it travel while being contagious?

Thank yoi

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. Tuberculosis (TB) is a very common infection worldwide. This bacterial infection can be found in the lungs, and sometimes in other parts of the body as well. TB is transmitted through airborne contact. It is transmitted through coughing, sneezing, and close airborne contact. Transmission most often occurs when exposure is close and prolonged over a period of time. TB is not always infectious. A person can have TB, yet not be infectious to others. A person is infectious when they have active TB, and the infection is in the lungs. If a person does not have active TB, or if the infection is located outside of the lungs, they are not infectious to others.

Anybody can get TB, regardless of whether they have HIV or not. However, persons who have HIV and who also have a damaged immune system, are at much greater risk of getting active TB. People who have HIV, and who also have TB are considered to have full-blown AIDS. Because of the close link between HIV and TB, it is recommended that persons diagnosed with TB be tested for HIV, and that persons diagnosed with HIV, be tested for TB.

In your specific case, if your wife has had active TB in the lungs, it would be a good idea for you to be tested for TB. TB is treatable with antibiotic therapy.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at "" or call me at (Nationwide). I'm glad to help!

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