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Active versus Latent Tuberculosis

A person with latent TB infection:
  • Has no symptoms.
  • Does not feel sick.
  • Cannot spread TB bacteria to others.
  • Usually has a skin test or blood test result indicating TB infection.
  • Has a normal chest x-ray and a negative sputum smear.
  • Needs treatment for latent TB infection to prevent active TB disease from developing
A person with active TB disease:
  • Has symptoms that may include: a bad cough that lasts 2 weeks or longer, pain in the chest, coughing up blood or sputum, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, sweating at night.
  • Usually feels sick.
  • May spread TB bacteria to others.
  • Usually has a skin test or blood result indicating TB infection
  • May have an abnormal chest x-ray, or positive sputum smear or culture.
  • Needs treatment to treat active TB disease
Can latent TB turn in to active TB?
Yes it can. Many people who have latent TB infection may never develop active TB disease. In other people, especially people who have weak immune systems, they can develop active TB if the germs become active (or awake).