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Facts about TB. Q&A you need to know

How can one be infected with tuberculosis?

The main way of transmission of tuberculosis is aerogenic (i.e. through the air). Serious risk of TB infection occurs when staying indoors whith TB patient who coughs. The risk increases in case of spending with such a person a long time (usually at least 8 hours a day). Once infected, the disease occurs only in 10 % of individuals. Tuberculosis occurs most often in people with weak immune systems (e.g. HIV -positive people or patients with diabetes). Unfortunately, the prevalence of TB in Ukraine is so high that every citizen of the country time after time contacts with TB patients in public transport, shops, cafes, etc., without even knowing it. Note also that if a person has no cough, this person does not extend the infection, even if suffering from tuberculosis.

Is it possible to be infected with TB in the open air?

No. Outdoor TB transmission is hardly possible. Moreover, even indoors you can reduce the risk of being infected by ensuring regular ventilation of the room.

Is it possible to protect oneself against tuberculosis using gauze or cotton- gauze or surgical mask, or oxolinic ointment?

No, these measures cannot protect healthy people from TB infection. But TB patients should wear a mask in order to not spread the infection further. In other words, a mask "works on the exhale."

Is it possible to be infected with TB through food, household items?

This way of transmission is unlikely. Although the causative agent of tuberculosis can remain alive for some time in food and on a variety of surfaces, its concentration is insufficient to infect a person. An additional security measure is thermal processing of food – thus killing the causative agent of tuberculosis and other infections that can be transmitted through food.

How dangerous is cough? What shell I do if I am coughing?

Sputum droplets, which are secreted during a cough, are a powerful factor in TB transmission process. It works not just for tuberculosis, but also for viral infections, which have their high season in late fall and winter, and can be transmitted much easier than TB. So, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and put your used tissue in a waste basket. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. 

What to do to avoid getting sick with TB?

Avoid staying in the same room with patients who have cough, eat a sufficient amount of protein and vitamins, and keep your lifestyle healthy.

Source: USAID "Strengthening Tuberculosis Control in Ukraine Project".