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Pandemics & Epidemics: A Topic & Resource Guide

Tuburculosis: The Basics

 Liverpool's x-ray campaign against tuberculosis. Lithograph, ca. 1960.

Liverpool's x-ray campaign against tuberculosis. Lithograph, ca. 1960, Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0),


TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and it most often affects the lungs. TB is spread through the air when people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit. A person needs to inhale only a few germs to become infected. Every year, 10 million people fall ill with tuberculosis (TB). Despite being a preventable and curable disease, 1.5 million people die from TB each year – making it the world’s top infectious killer...TB is the leading cause of death of people with HIV and also a major contributor to antimicrobial resistance....Most of the people who fall ill with TB live in low- and middle-income countries, but TB is present all over the world. About half of all people with TB can be found in 8 countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines and South Africa.....About one-quarter of the world’s population is estimated to be infected by TB bacteria. Only 5-15% of these people will fall ill with active TB disease. The rest have TB infection but are not ill and cannot transmit the disease. Both TB infection and disease are curable using antibiotics.

--World Health Organization,, (accessed April 5, 2021)

Tuberculosis -- Historical, Social, and Cultural

Tuberculosis -- Epidemiological