The incubation period (the time it takes for a person to become infected after being exposed) varies from weeks to years, depending on the individual and whether the infection is primary, progressive, or reactivation TB.
In older infants and children, latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), which is the first infection with the tuberculosis bacteria, usually produces no signs or symptoms. In addition, a chest X-ray shows no signs of infection.
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When someone with untreated TB coughs or sneezes, the air is filled with droplets containing the bacteria. Inhaling these infected droplets is the usual way a person gets TB.
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A vaccine called BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) is considered controversial because it isn't very effective in countries with a low incidence of TB. For this reason, BCG isn't usually given in the United States. However, it may be considered for kids emigrating to countries where TB is prevalent.
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Tuberculosis (popularly known as "TB") is a disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It mainly infects the lungs, although it also can affect other organs.
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However, most kids with tuberculosis can be treated as outpatients and cared for at home. The treatment is usually in the form of oral medications. Rarely, three or four drugs may be prescribed. Even though treatment may require months to complete, it's vitally important that the full course of medications be taken in order for tuberculosis to be cured.
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Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.