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Test your knowledge on tuberculosis and find out what you can do to help stop TB in your lifetime.


What causes TB?

  1. Sleeping in feather beds
  2. Consuming too much meat
  3. Staying in bed too long
  4. Drinking hot drinks
  5. None of the above

Answer: E. In the 1780’s, it was thought that drinking hot drinks, remaining too long in bed, eating too much meat, and sleeping in feather beds could cause someone to develop TB. However, we know today that none of those cause TB.

TB is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  TB most often affects the lungs but can occur anywhere in the body.

There are two TB-related conditions:  active tuberculosis disease and latent tuberculosis infection.  People with active TB disease usually feel sick, have symptoms and can spread TB to others.  People with latent TB infection do not feel sick, have no symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others.


How is TB spread?

  1. Through the air, from person to person
  2. Flea bites
  3. Mosquito bites
  4. Germs in spoiled food
  5. Mold

Answer:  A. TB is spread through the air from person to person.  The TB bacteria enter the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings.  People nearby may breathe these bacteria into the lungs and become infected.  Not everyone who has the TB bacteria in their body will ever become sick.

spitting spreads disease

TB was one of the first diseases addressed by the Virginia Department of Health when it was formed in 1908. VDH had a staff of four and a budget of $40,000, half of which was dedicated to controlling TB. Signs like the one above sought to limit the spread of TB.


What is the treatment for TB?

  1. Leeches
  2. Dialysis
  3. Antibiotics
  4. A cold shower
  5. It cannot be treated

Answer: C. People with TB disease must take several drugs that work against the TB bacteria for 6 to 12 months or longer.  Not all antibiotics kill the TB bacteria. It is very important for people with TB disease to finish the medicines and take the drugs exactly as ordered.  People who stop taking the drugs too soon can become sick again. If people do not take the drugs correctly, the bacteria may become resistant to the TB drugs.


At the turn of the 19th Century, patients with TB were often isolated and treated in sanatoriums. The first sanatorium in Virginia was founded in Petersburg in 1904.


How common is TB today?

  1. No one has had TB in over 100 years
  2. Only people who travel get it
  3. One third of the world’s population is infected with TB
  4. A total of 10,528 TB cases were reported in the United States in 2011
  5. Virginia reported 235 cases in 2012

Answer:  C, D and E. For many years, death was inevitable for people with TB.  On March 24, 1882, Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB). During this time, TB killed one out of every seven people living in the United States and Europe. Dr. Koch’s discovery was an important step taken toward the control and elimination of this deadly disease, along with the discovery in the 20th century of medicines that treated TB.

However, TB is still one of the world’s deadliest diseases.

In 2011, nearly 9 million people around the world became sick with TB disease. There were around 1.4 million TB-related deaths worldwide.

TB occurs worldwide among people of all ages and lifestyles. There are certain factors that increase a person’s risk of developing active TB disease.  Persons who were recently infected (within the last two years) with TB through close contact with someone they live with or spend a lot of time with have a greater risk of developing active TB disease.  People with TB infection in their bodies who have current medical conditions such as HIV, diabetes, substance abuse or kidney disease are also at increased risk for getting active TB disease.


Which are the symptoms of TB disease in the lungs?

  1. A bad cough lasting longer than three weeks
  2. Night sweats
  3. Weight loss
  4. Feeling tired
  5. Coughing up blood
  6. All of the above

Answer:  F. The general symptoms of TB disease include feeling tired, weight loss, fever and night sweats.  The symptoms of TB disease of the lungs also include a bad cough that does not improve and lasts 3 weeks or longer, chest pain and coughing up blood.  Anyone experiencing these symptoms should talk to their health care provider about being tested for TB infection.  People who have spent time with a person who has active disease, come from a country where TB is common, or live in a close setting such as a homeless shelter,  prison or jail should also get tested.  This involves having either a TB skin test or TB blood test.  Contact your local health department to find out about being tested for TB infection.  If the TB test is positive, other tests such as a chest x-ray and a sample of sputum (phlegm) may be needed to determine if the person has active TB disease.


Who was the first person to get TB?

  1. Ringo Starr, musician
  2. James Monroe, fifth U.S. President
  3. Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady
  4. An ancient Egyptian
  5. Desmond Tutu , South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop

Answer:  D. Although all of these people had TB, the origins of tuberculosis (TB) date back to ancient times.  Evidence of TB has been found in the spines of Egyptian mummies dating from 5000 B.C. 


What other terms describe TB?

  1. Consumption
  2. The Black Death
  3. The White Plague
  4. Whooping Cough
  5. The Mummy’s Curse

Answer: A and C This disease has been known by several names, including consumption (due to the severe weight loss and the way the infection “consumed” the patient), and the white plague (due to the extreme pallor among those infected).

Last Updated: 03-26-2013

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