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Is tuberculosis contagious?

Tuberculosis is a perfidious disease that may lead to serious damage of the lungs and is also able to spread to distant tissues and cause additional damage to many organs and organ systems such as bones, kidneys, central nervous system, joints etc.

The infection is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The infective agents are inhaled. Once the person gets infected there are several possible outcomes. The infection can be in a form of active disease. Furthermore, in latent form of tuberculosis the infective agent stays in the body, is not active for a certain period of time but it can become active under certain circumstances. In case infective agents spread to distant organs in the body the disease is classified as generalized tuberculosis.

People with weakened immune system are more susceptible to tuberculosis and they commonly develop more serious form of the disease.  Tuberculosis can be classified into contagious and non-contagious tuberculosis.

Contagious Forms of Tuberculosis

One type of contagious tuberculosis is primary tuberculosis pneumonia. This is actually a very contagious form of the disease which features with similar symptoms and signs of classic pneumonia. Primary tuberculosis pneumonia most commonly affect immunocompromized patients. Laryngeal tuberculosis is another contagious form of the disease. This form of tuberculosis affect the larynx.

There are a few more contagious forms of tuberculosis. They include miliary tuberculosis, tuberculosis pleurisy and cavitary tuberculosis. Miliary tuberculosis is a serious form of the disease which develops soon after the infection is contracted. In milary tuberculosis the infection affects many parts of the lungs. In tuberculosis pleurisy the infection predominantly affects the pleura. And finally, cavitary tuberculosis features with severe damage to the lung tissue. The damage is in a form of cavities and leads to chronic cough. By coughing one may spread infection to other people.

Non-contagious Forms of Tuberculosis

Osteal tuberculosis is infection of the bones. Mycobacterium tuberculosis spreads form the lungs to the bones and causes their damage. Damage to bone tissue may eventually lead to bone fractures. Tuberculosis meningitis is another non-contagious form of the disease. In this form of tuberculosis the meninges are damaged by a direct influence of bacteria.

There are several more non-contagious forms of tuberculosis. They include renal tuberculosis, adrenal tuberculosis etc. Even in case the bacteria have spread to lymph nodes there is no chance of further transmission of the disease. Non-contagious forms of tuberculosis represent advanced stage of the disease which occur once the bacteria spread from the initial place of the infection, the lungs. These forms are much harder to be treated and lead to serious complications. The best effects of the treatment are achieved if the condition is diagnosed on time and in case the damage to the lung tissue is limited.

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