Tuberculosis Description A contagious disease found in both humans and animals and caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. The disease attacks the lungs but can be found throughout the body in organs like the kidney and brain. Location TB is found worldwide and can be transmitted between animals and humans. Africa and Asia have the highest number of infected individuals. Cause TB is caused by the spread of bacteria in the air in the of coughing, sneezing, speaking, spiting, laughing etc. Humans can contract TB by consuming the bacteria found in unpasteurized milk and other dairy products from an infected animal. TB found in cattle can spread easily to other animals that come in contact, including household pets. Symptoms Pulmonary TB (in the lungs) is the most common form of TB. Those symptoms include: a continuing cough, high fever, extreme fatigue, weight loss, and heavy night sweats. Treatment A skin test is performed in order to diagnose tuberculosis in humans. A positive skin test means that the individual is infected with TB. A negative skin test means the TB infection or disease is not detected. Two conditions can exist and therefore treatment can vary. Those that have latent TB infection contain the bacteria but lack symptoms and cannot transmit TB to others. If infected, there are medications that can be used in order to prevent the infection from becoming TB disease. TB disease means the bacteria is multiplying in the body and is therefore active and therefore it is classified as TB disease. Those with the TB disease will experience being sick and having symptoms. Drugs can be used to fight the disease and this process can take several months. Prevention Be careful when traveling abroad and learn what areas may have an increase risk for contracting TB. If you work in a health care facility where TB is likely, you are at a higher risk. Make sure there are measures of disease control including airborne precautions, the proper treatment of those with TB, and early detection. Stay away from animals that are infected with TB and be cautious not to breathe the same air. Handling Animals Cattle and other livestock are common animals that infect humans with TB. Common signs in animals that are infected with TB are weight loss, weak appetite, swollen lymph nodes, a wet cough, and chronic mastitis (infection of the udder). Other Facts Individuals with a weak immune system are at an increased risk for TB. Isolate animals that are infected and do not get too close to them.