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Tuberculosis is disease that concentrates in the lungs and is caused by a bacterial infection. It can also spread to other organs with devastating effect. TB is spread through airborne transmission by an infected individual who coughs or sneezes, releasing droplets that are infected with the germ.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Initial Effects

The first signs of TB can be observed from the diagnostic test that uses a tuberculin purified protein derivative that is injected into the skin 1. If the test is positive and the person has TB, the site will become inflamed, with a hard, red, swollen raised area, according to 1. Additional symptoms of TB might appear at the site of the test, including skin rash with itching, blistering, peeling and loosening of the skin 1. If the person does not have TB, there is generally little to no visible reaction. There is always the risk, albeit slight, of being infected by the TB test itself.

Long-term Effects

5 Classifications of Pulmonary Tuberculosis

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According to, TB that is undiagnosed or left untreated can cause permanent damage to the lungs and respiratory tract as well as to other vital organs. It can also be responsible for damage to the central nervous system and brain, the circulatory system, affecting gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes, skin, joints and bones. Untreated, TB can cause death.

Active Symptoms

Effects of active TB in diagnosed cases range from pleurisy, a disease of the lining of the lungs, according to USA Today's Health Encyclopedia section, as well as coughing, spitting blood and sputum, loss of appetite, fatigue with profound weakness and wasting, fever, weight loss and night sweats. TB can appear like other similar diseases such as pneumonia, cancer of the lungs and fungal infections.

TB and Infants

Active Vs. Inactive Tuberculosis

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Children younger than 12 months can develop meningitis, which can be fatal because their immune systems are not strong enough to fight the bacteria causing the disease, reports

Latent TB

Certain people contract a latent form of the disease and are not contagious at this stage, but if the person who has latent TB has a weakened immune system, the disease can become active and remain undetectable for a time, leading to delays in treatment, which can result in lasting effects. People with immuno-compromised conditions such as HIV/AIDS are at extremely high risk of tuberculosis.

Effects on Pregnancy explains that women who are pregnant require emergency treatment to protect themselves and their fetus to prevent a spread of the infection.

Effects on Others

Because TB is extremely contagious, its effects are felt beyond the range of the individual diagnosed with the disease. Great care is necessary for healthy people to keep their immune systems strong and have regular checkups to confirm that they have not contracted the disease through exposure to the ill and through airborne pathogens.