Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB bacteria can affect any part of the body, but usually attacks the lungs. TB is spread through the air when a person with TB disease coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People with TB disease are sick from TB germs that are active - multiplying and destroying tissue in their body. TB disease is serious and can be deadly. Yet, some people with TB bacteria in their body don’t become sick because the germs are not active. This is called TB infection.
Since 2015, TB cases in the United States have substantially decreased each year. In fact, the rate of TB cases in 2020 was 20 percent lower than those in 2019. South Carolina has also experienced a decrease in TB with 67 cases in 2020 with African Americans, males and non-Hispanic persons having the highest rates. Yet, these decreases during the COVID-19 pandemic may be the result of TB cases not being detected or there was less transfer of the bacteria.