TB bacteria can live in the body without making you sick. This is called 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. People with latent TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. People with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB bacteria to others. However, if TB bacteria become active in the body and multiply, the person will go from having latent TB infection to being sick with TB disease.
There are two kinds of tests that are used to detect TB bacteria in the body:
- The TB skin test (TST) and
- The TB blood test
If you have a positive reaction to either of the test, you will be given a chest x-ray or sputum (phlegm) sample to see if you have latent TB infection or TB infection.
What is the treatment for LTBI?
LTBI can be treated with medicine, most often Isoniazid (INH). You must take this medicine for six to nine months. (Children and persons with HIV will need to take medicine longer, for at least nine months.)
Your private health care provider will discuss the treatment with you and together outline the best course of action to take.