Causes of tuberculosis (TB)

Learn about the causes of tuberculosis (TB) and how it is spread.

On this page:

What causes tuberculosis?

TB is caused by a type of bacteria. It is a disease that mainly affects the lungs and airways.

How is tuberculosis spread?

TB is spread from human to human through the release of droplets from the lungs or airways of an infected person. This can happen through:

  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • singing
  • playing a wind instrument
  • talking (to a lesser extent)

To be infected, you have to breathe in the TB bacteria.

You cannot get infected by:

  • shaking hands
  • sharing dishes
  • sitting on toilet seats
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