Once you have carefully read and understood this 5-page ‘Know TB – no TB’ section, half the battle is won. Because, even this bit of knowledge can go a long way to prevent infection; a stitch in time saves nine.

In India, it is recommended that every newborn baby must be administered BCG vaccine at birth.

The disease is caused by a germ that spreads through the air – and not through touch, handshake, food or water.

Since man-to-man transmission is through the air and we all breathe the same air, obviously no one – yes, no one – is immune to getting infected.

Now, if you learn how to spot a potential source of infection for you and your kid, and what to do towards prevention, it would be most useful.

1.  A sputum positive patient of lung TB is the primary source of infection:

When a full-blown patient of lung TB coughs, he throws out invisible germs into the air, exposing others who might inhale those germs and get infected. Once inhaled, the germ may attack the lungs and begin to slowly destroy tissues. No wonder TB mostly (80%) occurs in the lungs. And it is this form of disease i.e. lung TB which is capable of producing cough and germ emission and is thus notorious for the entire gamut of transmission – the primary concern for everyone engaged in TB control world over – public health institutions, governments and the WHO.

Not all TB patients emit germs; only those cases of lung TB are infective who, while coughing, spew germs into the air in the form of droplets of phlegm (sputum) – and which can be easily demonstrated through a simple sputum test in a laboratory.

However, most sputum positive patients too tend to turn germ free (non-infective) within a month of effective treatment. Meanwhile, they can minimize transmission by observing simple precautions

A useful thumb rule to work with TB patients is – No cough means no risk of infection.

2.  Please remember, several forms of the disease normally pose no risk of infection to others e.g.:

a.             Besides lungs, TB can occur anywhere in the human body from head to toe. When it occurs in organs other than lungs e.g. lymph glands, bones and joints, abdomen, brain or genitals etc., it is non-infective. Exception: A rare source of infection may be pus discharge from an open wound over a TB lesion in the skin, gland or bone, which may contain some active germs; so, don’t touch such a wound with bare hands, wash hands frequently and wash patient’s pus soaked clothes separately and in boiling hot water.

b.            Childhood TB.

c.            Even a lung TB patient under proper treatment whose sputum repeatedly tests negative for germs poses little risk to others.

3.  Animals:

TB also occurs in the animals. Some scientists point to history and blame the animal world as the source of origin of this scourge in humans – following domestication. Cat, dog, buffalo, and cow etc. are not immune. So, always pasteurize or boil the milk before drinking it and never sleep amidst a herd of cattle.