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Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs. But, TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. TB disease was once the leading cause of death in the United States.

TB (PDF)Opens a new browser window.is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs or sneezes. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. People who are not sick have what is called latent TB infection. People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. But, some people with latent TB infection go on to get TB disease. People with active TB disease can be treated and cured if they seek medical help. Even better, people with latent TB infection can take medicine so that they will not develop active TB disease. 

Bovine tuberculosis refers to infection with bacteria called Mycobacterium bovis, or M. bovis. Mycobacterium bovis is related to another organism that causes tuberculosis in humans, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but M. bovis is found most commonly in cattle and other animals. People can become infected with M. bovis when they consume raw milk and unpasteurized dairy products. Symptoms of bovine tuberculosis in people depend on the parts of the body infected; most infections result in no or only mild symptoms, including fever, night sweats, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. A comprehensive testing program conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state animal health agencies, and livestock ranchers has virtually eliminated bovine tuberculosis from cattle in the United States. However, bovine tuberculosis remains common in many developing countries, and persons should refrain from consuming imported dairy products that are not pasteurized.

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Last modified on: 2/2/2015 11:20 AM