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Who is at risk for TB?


Not everyone who inhales the bacteria becomes ill. In many healthy people, the immune system is able to destroy the bacteria that cause TB. In some cases, the bacteria infect the person's body but don't cause any symptoms. This is known as having latent TB. The bacteria may then after a period of weeks, months or even years, begin to cause the symptoms of TB. This is known as having active TB.

People with latent TB do not feel sick and cannot spread the TB bacteria to other people.

People at high risk for Tuberculosis (TB) exposure and infection include:

  • Close contacts of persons exposed to contagious cases of TB
  • Foreign-born persons, including children, who have immigrated within the last 5 years from areas that have a high TB incidence
  • Residents and employees of high-risk congregate settings (prisons, nursing homes, homeless shelters, drug treatment facilities, and healthcare facilities)
  • Healthcare workers who serve high-risk clients
  • Some medically underserved, low-income populations as defined locally
  • High-risk racial or ethnic minority populations defined locally as having an increased prevalence of TB
  • Infants, children, and adolescents exposed to adults in high-risk categories
  • Persons who inject illicit drugs or any other locally identified high-risk substance users

People at high risk for progression to TB disease once infected include:

  • Persons with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
  • Persons who were infected with M. tuberculosis within the past 2 years, particularly infants and very young children
  • Persons who have underlying medical conditions known to increase the risk of progression to active disease
  • Persons who inject illicit drugs
  • Persons with a past history of inadequately treated TB

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