At least 66 per cent of South Africans are infected with TB. Globally, about a third of the population is infected.
After inhaled TB bacteria arrive in your lungs, the immune system usually keeps them inactive. If the bacteria multiply, TB disease develops.
Usually the bacteria stays dormant, and the carrier is unaware of the infection. Most infected people do not develop active TB, which means they will not become sick and infectious. One is most likely to develop active TB within 2 years of infection.
One usually only catches TB from substantial exposure to someone with active TB. A person with active TB will be non-infectious 2 weeks after starting treatment.
Tobacco smoke increases the risk of TB infection, latent TB becoming active and TB-related death. Second-hand smoke increases risk of infection in children.
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