Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria spread through the air when an infectious person sneezes, coughs, or talks. If a non-infected person inhales these germs, called bacilli, she or he can become infected.
Many people who have TB infection never develop TB disease because the TB bacteria may remain inactive, or latent, throughout their lifetime. Individuals that have latent TB infection (LTBI) cannot spread the disease, but can be treated to prevent infection from developing into TB disease.
In some people, especially those with weak immune systems, the TB bacilli may become active, leading to TB disease. People with TB disease can be cured if they obtain medical evaluation and appropriate medication. The antimicrobials that kill TB germs are specific for tuberculosis.