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Transmission

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Tuberculosis is spread from a person to person through the air. Luckily tuberculosis is not transmitted easily. Correct treatment reduces the spread of the disease.

Tuberculosis (TB) bacteria get into the air when a person with TB speaks, coughs or sings. Other persons staying in the same indoor environment e.g. in the same room may breathe in this air and get infected.

However, not all people with TB disease spread it to others. TB bacteria are spread by those who have the disease in airways, usually in the lungs, and who generate many bacteria in their sputum.

Tuberculosis is not easily transmitted. Family members living together are at highest risk. Risk of transmission is very small in casual contacts. Only one third of exposed persons become infected.

TB is not transmitted through dishes, drinks, food, clothes or surfaces.

The risk of transmission can be reduced: The sick person should get rapidly evaluated for TB. He/she should follow the treatment instructions carefully. When the sick person learns a safe way to cough, it prevents the spread of bacteria into air. Regular ventilation reduces effectively the amount of bacteria in the room air. Outside, there is practically no risk of transmission.