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During the 1940s, scientists discovered the first of many drugs used to treat TB. As a result, TB slowly began to disappear in the U.S. Unfortunately, TB infection has made a comeback in recent decades. After 1984, the number of TB cases reported in the U.S. began to increase. More than 25,000 cases were reported in 1993.
You CANNOT get TB from sharing a drinking glass with a person who has TB or touching a doorknob after someone with TB has used it. Also, once a person with TB is taking medication for treatment, he or she quickly becomes non-contagious. Additionally, once treatment has begun, he or she can quickly resume their normal life without fear of spreading TB to others.
Many people who have latent TB infection never develop active TB disease. In these people, the TB bacteria remain in the body for a lifetime without causing disease. But, in others, especially those who have weak immune systems, the bacteria can become active and cause TB disease.
Symptoms of active TB disease depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing and may include:* bad cough lasting more than 3 weeks* pain in the chest* coughing up blood or sputum* weakness/fatigue* weight loss* no appetite* chills, fever, night sweats* usually have a positive skin test* may have abnormal chest x-ray and/or positive sputum smear or culture
Because the TB bacteria may be found elsewhere besides the lungs, a doctor or nurse may check your blood or urine, or do other tests. If you are found to have TB disease, you will need to take medicine to cure it.