Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air. TB can be active or latent (sleeping). When active, TB usually affects the lungs, but it is curable with treatment. Without treatment, TB can be life-threatening.

What is the difference between Active TB and Latent TB Infection?

TB is active when it is making your body sick. TB affects the lungs, and sometimes the brain, the spine, or other body parts. When it is active, TB can also be spread to other people.

Latent (sleeping) TB infection means the TB germs are in your body but they are asleep and not growing. You will not feel sick and you cannot spread TB to others.

Common symptoms of active TB include:

  • Cough that lasts for more than 3 weeks
  • Fever and night sweats
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Coughing up blood
  • Feeling more tired than usual

Even if you are not experiencing symptoms, you may have TB. It is important to be tested for TB at the health centre.


How is TB spread?

TB germs are spread through the air from person to person. If someone has active TB disease in their lungs, they can spread the germs when they cough, sneeze, or sing and somethings through talking.

You cannot get active or talent TB from:

  • Touching doorknobs
  • Shaking hands
  • Sharing drinking glasses
  • Sharing clothing
  • Hugging

How do I prevent getting TB?

Avoid close and extended contact with those who have the following symptoms:

  • A cough that lasts longer than three weeks or coughing blood
  • Feeling more tired than usual
  • Lost appetite or weight loss
  • Fever or night sweats

Everyone can also practice these simple steps to stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands and wash them often
  • Cough into your elbow or tissue
  • If you feel sick, stay home from community events and large crowds
  • Reduce or quit smoking. For help, talk to a health care provider, visit, or call the Nunavut Quitline at 1-866-368-7848..
  • Follow the Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines for alcohol
  • Eat a variety of country foods or healthy store-bought foods. You can use the Nunavut Food Guide to help you make healthy eating choices.

To help reduce the spread of TB to family, friends, and community members everyone is encouraged to go to their health centre to get screened.

Who is at risk of TB infection?

The risk of being infected with TB is greatest for those who:

  • Live in crowded housing
  • Have poor nutrition
  • Are under the age of 5
  • Are Elders
  • Have weakened immune systems or a chronic disease such as diabetes, autoimmune disease or cancer
  • Have prolonged exposures to someone with infectious TB in poorly ventilated areas 
  • Have been infected with TB bacteria in the past two years and not received treatment


Is TB curable?

Yes, TB is curable when treated with medication.

For active TB:

  • It takes a number of medications to treat active TB
  • You will be on medication for 6-9 months or longer
  • Until your medication begins to work, you may be asked to stay at home to prevent the spread of TB to others

For latent TB:

  • It takes 1-2 medications to treat latent TB
  • You will be on medication usually for 3-9 months.
  • You will not be asked to stay at home when on medication for latent TB

Important information for all TB treatments:

  • You will have regular checkups throughout your treatment as part of your care 
  • You must take all of the doses of medication as prescribed by your TB doctor
  • Your medication must be observed by a health care provider
  • It is not safe to use alcohol when you are on a TB medication
  • It is not safe to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) when you are on TB medication

If you have questions about Tuberculosis or would like to be tested, visit the health centre.