What is tuberculosis (TB)?

TB is a contagious disease that can damage the lungs and other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys, and spine. It is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Can TB be cured?

Yes. TB can be cured and prevented. It can be cured completely by taking the prescribed medicine and attending check-ups for at least 6-8 months. This treatment is called the Directly-Observed Treatment, Short-Course (DOTS) or Tutok-Gamutan. DOTS is approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and available in all Southeast Asian countries.

Where can I get treated for TB?

TB treatment is free in public hospitals, clinics, and health centers under the National Tuberculosis Control Program.

All Filipinos can get tested and treated at any PTSI center. PTSI currently operates 8 chest clinics and dispensaries and 2 multidrug-resistant TB centers across the country.

PTSI accepts appointments, walk-ins, and referrals.

How is TB spread?

TB is spread through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or sings. You cannot get TB just by shaking hands, touching linens and clothes, and kissing with an infected person. However, it can spread more easily in crowded places with no fresh air and sunlight.

Not everyone with TB is infectious. People with latent TB and TB outside the lungs (extrapulmonary TB), as well as children with TB, cannot spread it.

Who is most at risk for TB?

Anyone can get TB. When a healthy person is infected with the TB bacteria, it may start out as TB infection or latent TB. Latent TB does not cause symptoms and cannot be spread. 

When a person with a weak immune system is infected with TB, it may lead to TB disease or active TB. Active TB causes symptoms, is contagious, and can lead to death. People most at risk for TB include those with HIV, weakened immune systems, and diabetes. Other vulnerable people are the elderly, smokers, and close contacts of TB patients, such as family members and health workers.

How can multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) be prevented?

If a patient stops taking their medicine before the treatment period ends, the TB bacteria in their body can become stronger and more resistant to drugs. This may lead to MDR-TB, which is harder to treat.

A person with TB must take all their medications as prescribed by their doctor. They should never stop treatment early. Patients must inform their doctor if they cannot take their medications or have plans that could disrupt their treatment, such as travel.

Healthcare providers can help prevent MDR-TB by quickly diagnosing cases, following recommended treatment guidelines, monitoring their patients, and making sure treatment is completed.

Avoid exposure to known MDR-TB patients in crowded places such as hospitals and prisons. If you work in places where there are likely to be TB patients, consult with infection control or health experts so you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself. This could include using personal respiratory protective equipment.

Is there a vaccine for TB?

BCG (short for bacillus Calmette-Guerin) is a TB vaccine given to infants and small children. It can protect against severe extra-pulmonary TB, such as TB meningitis and miliary TB (TB of the bloodstream) in childhood. However, it cannot completely protect against pulmonary TB, the main form of TB affecting the lungs.