Early symptoms of tuberculosis, or TB, include coughing, chest pain, and expectorating sputum or blood, notes the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A cough lasting more than 3 weeks is a telltale sign of the condition. Additional TB symptoms include fatigue or weakness, weight loss, lack of appetite, fever, chills and night sweats.
TB spreads from one person to another through the release of microscopic droplets in the air, states Mayo Clinic. The spread of the disease generally occurs when someone who has untreated TB sneezes, coughs, speaks or laughs. TB is not easy to catch, but it is contagious. After around 2 weeks of appropriate drug treatment, the person being treated is no longer contagious.
Although the disease is treatable, there are drug-resistant strains of TB, notes Mayo Clinic. These strains resist standard treatments, making the disease more difficult to treat and raising the incidence of deaths from TB. In addition, people with weakened immune systems due to HIV and AIDS are often more susceptible to TB infection, since their immune systems cannot fight off the condition. Some drug-resistant strains are passed from one generation to the next, remaining latent in some individuals and causing sickness in others.