Can TB infection be treated?

Yes. It is possible to treat TB infection with medication. In Finland, medication is given to those in contact of TB patients who are infected and are less than 16 years old. Medication can be offered also to some adults according to national recommendations.

Is there a test for TB infection?

There is no single good test available to find out if a person has TB infection. Two tests are being used: skin test (the Mantoux Tuberculin Skin Test, TST) and blood-test (IGRA). The tests are used according to national recommendations.

Are all patients with TB disease infectious?

No. In practice only a person with tuberculosis (TB) disease of the lungs can spread it. The sick person infects others more easily if he/she has cavities in the lungs or if bacteria are detected in the sputum smear examination.

Can I get infected if I have used the same means of public transportation together with someone who had TB disease of the lungs?

There is no risk of infection with tuberculosis (TB) during casual, short and single travel e.g. in a bus or train.  Risk is bigger if you travel repeatedly in the same bus or train with the person who has TB disease. If you are flying and someone on the same flight has TB disease, persons on flights lasting 8 hours or longer are at greater risk than persons on shorter flights. At greatest risk are those who sit close to (two rows in front and behind) the person with TB. The authorities in charge of infectious diseases can find out who these persons are and contact them.

Can I get infected if I clean the home of a patient who was hospitalized because of tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is not spread by sharing dishes, drinks, food or clothes or touching surfaces. TB bacteria are released into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs speaks, coughs, sneezes or sings. Other persons staying in the same indoor environment (e.g. same room or flat) may get bacteria in their lungs when they breathe in this air and get infected. After the sick person leaves the room, TB bacteria will remain in the room air for hours, especially in small places with poor ventilation. If the sick person has left the room many hours ago or the room has been ventilated, there is no risk of TB for the person cleaning the room.

How tuberculosis spreads?

Tuberculosis (TB) is spread from one person to other through the air. TB bacteria are released into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs speaks, coughs, sneezes or sings. Other persons staying in the same room may get bacteria in their own lungs when they breathe in this air and may get infected. Family members living together with the sick persons are most likely to get infected.