Tuberculosis (TB)

Can tuberculosis (TB) be prevented?

A Answers (2)

  • Tuberculosis (TB) is preventable. Good ventilation can stop the spread of TB, which passes from person to person through the air. Hospitals quarantine contagious TB patients in rooms with separate ventilation systems, and they use ultraviolet light to sanitize the air. Healthcare workers may wear respirator masks to protect themselves.

    Even if you have been infected with TB bacteria, you can prevent the disease itself by taking certain antibiotics for several months. There is a tuberculosis vaccine, known as bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), but it is given mostly to children in developing nations where the risk of TB is high. The vaccine doesn't work well in adults, and it can cause false-positive tuberculosis tests later in life, so it isn't widely used in the United States.

  • AHealthwise answered
    Active tuberculosis (TB) is very contagious. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one-third of the world's population is infected with the bacteria that cause TB.

    To avoid getting an active TB infection:
    • Do not spend long periods of time in stuffy, enclosed rooms with anyone who has active TB until that person has been treated for at least 2 weeks.
    • Use protective measures, such as face masks, if you work in a facility that cares for people who have untreated TB.
    • If you live with someone who has active TB, help and encourage the person to follow treatment instructions.
    Can the TB vaccine help? A TB vaccine (bacille Calmette-Guerin, or BCG) is used in many countries to prevent TB. But this vaccination is almost never used in the United States because:
    • The risk of getting TB is low in the U.S.
    • The vaccine is not effective in adults who receive it.
    • The BCG vaccine may cause a tuberculin skin test to indicate a TB infection even if a person is not infected with TB. This complicates the use of the tuberculin skin test to check people for TB.
    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. To learn more visit

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