Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease that spreads through the air. You must be in contact with someone infected with TB for more than six hours in order to become infected yourself.
"It has to be spread through somebody who is actively coughing, you have to breathe that particle into your body and you have to do that usually over an extended period of time," said Kreidler. "You're not in the grocery store and somebody else coughs."
Once a person is infected, the Health Department launches an investigation, testing people that came in contact with the infected person in close-quarters for more than six hours.
People can test positive for both active and inactive TB, but must receive treatment in both cases. Inactive TB is treated with one medication over nine months, and active TB is treated through several different drugs for up to a year.
The most common symptom of Tuberculosis is a persistent cough lasting more than three weeks. But they will generally have other symptoms as well, Kreidler said, "They'll have loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, unexplained fever."
Tuberculosis is very contagious, but there are ways to protect yourself. "Be aware of your environment. If you're in close proximity from someone who's coughing, then remove yourself from that area," said Kreidler. "Being in an area that's well ventilated is important."