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Tuberculosis (too-bur-kyuh-LOH-suhss), or TB, is a disease caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine. A person with TB can die if they do not get treatment.
The general symptoms of TB disease include:
Other symptoms of TB depend on the parts of the body affected. With TB of the lungs, symptoms also can include coughing, chest pain, and coughing up blood.
If you have symptoms of TB or if you have been around someone who has TB disease, go to your doctor or health department for tests. TB can be treated and cured.
American Indians and Alaska Natives have a lower TB rate than other minority groups. But their rate of infection is still about six times higher than whites. Minority groups tend to have more TB risk factors than whites. TB risk factors include lower economic status and HIV infection.
Content last updated: March 01, 2012.