We recently chatted with Dr. Mel Spigelman, the president of TB Alliance, and he answered five common questions about tuberculosis. We edited his responses for length and clarity.
How contagious is TB? Can you get it by being near someone when they sneeze? Probably not. TB requires relatively close contact for transmission. You really need to be around somebody for a good amount of time. That’s why it spreads in families.
An estimated one-third of the world has TB. How could that be? Not everybody who is infected with the TB bacteria gets sick. In many cases, the body walls off the microbes, usually in the lungs, and you never know they’re there, kind of like the bacteria in your mouth or nose.