About Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis, commonly known as TB, is a bacterial infection spread through the air from a person who has active tuberculosis to those who are in close contact. It is most often found in the lungs.

Most people who are exposed to TB never develop symptoms because the bacteria can live in an inactive form in the body. But if the immune system weakens, such as in people with HIV or elderly adults, TB bacteria can become active. In their active state, TB bacteria cause death of tissue in the organs they infect. Active TB disease can be fatal if left untreated.

There are two types of Tuberculosis (TB): Active TB disease and Latent TB infection (LTBI).

How is TB Diagnosed?

TB disease can be diagnosed by medical history, TB Skin Test (TST), Sputum Test, and Chest X-ray.

How is TB Spread?

  • TB is spread through the air when a person with Active TB of the lungs coughs the TB germs into the air.
  • If you are in the same room, house, workplace or school as the person who is coughing the TB germ into the air, you can become infected.
  • When you breathe in the TB germ your body might “lock it up” and it does not make you feel unwell. This is called Latent TB Infection or LTBI.
  • If a person’s immune system is not strong the TB germ can wake up and start multiplying.
  • HIV, Diabetes and Cancer are some of the health problems that make a person’s immune system weak.
  • When you start to develop symptoms of Active TB and start to cough you can now pass on the TB germ to others.
  • Active TB can be life threatening if left untreated and can result in death.

TB Prevention, What can we do?

  • Taking TB treatment for Latent TB infection reduces the chances of developing Active TB in the future. Talk to your TB Program worker for more information about treatment.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of Active TB Disease.
  • If you have symptoms of Active TB like cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss, tired , feel lazy, coughing up blood, call your local health center and request screening for TB.
  • Make sure you complete all the recommended screening —this could be a Skin Test (TST), a Chest X-ray or Sputum Tests.
  • If family members have symptoms encourage them to get screening.
  • Know the risks that may increase your chance of developing Active TB, Diabetes, HIV, Cancer, Smoking, increase alcohol use.
  • Understand that children under the age of 5 are at a higher risk of developing serious forms of TB.
  • Talking about TB openly will help lessen any negative feelings towards TB.
  • Remember that TB can affect ANYONE!

Treating TB

If you have TB in your lungs, you may be able to spread it to others. Your doctor will tell you if you have an infectious type of Active TB. If you are infectious, you will need to stay home to avoid spreading TB to others. TB disease is treated with antibiotics that are prescribed by a health care provider.

Your community has specially trained TB program workers that provide treatment and offer support. TB treatment can be anywhere from 3 months to over a year long. You can take your TB treatment at home, in your community.

Program Goals & Objectives:

Not all communities are affected equally by TB; some have very high rates of disease while others have very little. Much of our time and effort is directed at those communities with the most TB cases.

The NITHA TB program provides support to our partner communities to prevent and control Tuberculosis and to reduce the incidence of TB by:

  • Working quickly to identify, screen and refer for preventative treatment, people who have been exposed to someone with active TB so they do not get sick themselves
  • Educating communities about TB, its symptoms, the factors that increase the risk of developing active TB disease and the importance of seeing a health care provider early
  • Supporting TB program workers and community health nurses to administer DOT (Directly Observed Therapy) to those who require treatment for TB infection and active TB disease
  • Working in partnership with Saskatchewan TB Prevention and Control and other stakeholders to develop and implement effective strategies for controlling TB

For contact information, please visit our staff page.