What is latent TB infection?
In most people who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. The bacteria become inactive, but they remain alive in the body and can become active later. This is called latent TB infection. People with latent TB infection
Many people who have latent TB infection never develop active TB disease. In these people, the TB bacteria remain inactive for a lifetime without causing disease. But in other people, especially people who have weak immune systems, the bacteria become active and cause TB disease.
What is active TB disease?
TB bacteria become active if the immune system can't stop them from growing. The active bacteria begin to multiply in the body and cause active TB disease. The bacteria attack the body and destroy tissue. If this occurs in the lungs, the bacteria can actually create a hole in the lung. Some people develop active TB disease soon after becoming infected, before their immune system can fight the TB bacteria. Other people may get sick later, when their immune system becomes weak for another reason.
Babies and young children often have weak immune systems. People infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, have very weak immune systems. Other people can have weak immune systems, too, especially people with any of these conditions:
Symptoms of TB depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs. TB in the lungs may cause symptoms such as:
Other symptoms of active TB disease are:
The Difference Between Latent TB Infection and Active TB Disease
A person with latent TB infection:
A person with active TB disease:
Important disclaimer: The information on pkids.org is for educational purposes only and should not be considered to be medical advice. It is not meant to replace the advice of the physician who cares for your child. All medical advice and information should be considered to be incomplete without a physical exam, which is not possible without a visit to your doctor.
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