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Tuberculosis (TB) - Prevention

Active tuberculosis (TB) is very contagious. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one-third of the world's population is infected with the bacteria that cause TB.

To avoid getting an active TB infection:

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  • Do not spend long periods of time in stuffy, enclosed rooms with anyone who has active TB until that person has been treated for at least 2 weeks.
  • Use protective measures, such as face masks, if you work in a facility that cares for people who have untreated TB.
  • If you live with someone who has active TB, help and encourage the person to follow treatment instructions.

Can the TB vaccine help?

A TB vaccine (bacille Calmette-Guerin, or BCG) is used in many countries to prevent TB. But this vaccination is almost never used in the United States because:

  • The risk of getting TB is low in the U.S.
  • The vaccine is not very effective in adults who receive it.
  • The BCG vaccine may cause a tuberculin skin test to indicate a TB infection even if a person is not infected with TB. This complicates the use of the tuberculin skin test to check people for TB.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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