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Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is tuberculosis (TB)?

TB is a contagious and potentially life-threatening infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The TB bacteria are spread from person to person through the air. People with TB disease of the lungs or larynx release the bacteria into the surrounding area when they cough, sneeze, talk, or otherwise expel air, dispersing droplets that contain M. tuberculosis. These droplets can dry into tiny particles called droplet nuclei that remain suspended in air for long periods of time.

What are the hazards associated with TB?

Although the majority of healthy individuals who are exposed to and subsequently infected by TB may never develop active disease, left untreated TB infection can progress to active disease which can, in turn, result in death. Further complicating treatment of active TB is the fact that initial infection by multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB limits the types and number of drugs that can be used to treat the patient once active disease begins.

Solutions

Solutions

What can I do to protect myself?

Never enter the room or dwelling of an individual known to have active disease unless you know that they are undergoing treatment and have been cleared by a physician as no longer infectious. Healthcare workers and others who must enter an isolation room where an individual is undergoing treatment must wear appropriate respiratory protection in accordance with an effective respiratory protection program.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Other resource information pertaining to personal protective equipment and respiratory protection can be found on the A-Z topics page. In addition, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). The education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request.

Regulations

Regulations

Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards that are applicable to tuberculosis in North Carolina:

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov or by calling 919-707-7876.