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To enable our partners, faith based organizations, and communities to address the holistic health of families in South Carolina. 

Hold Out The Lifeline:
A Mission To Families

In This Issue:

What We Know

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.

View TB in SC Infographic

Signs & Symptoms

TB disease in the lungs may cause:

  • bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • pain in the chest
  • coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)

Other symptoms of TB disease are:

  • weakness or fatigue
  • weight loss
  • no appetite
  • chills
  • fever
  • sweating at night
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  • Close contacts of persons exposed to contagious persons withTB
  • Foreign-born persons, including children, who have immigratedwithin the last 5 years from areas that have a high TB incidence
  • Residents and employees of high-risk congregate settings(prisons, nursing homes, homeless shelters, drug treatmentfacilities, and healthcare facilities)
  • Healthcare workers who serve high-risk clients
  • Some medically underserved, low-income populations as defined locally
  • High-risk racial or ethnic minority populations defined locally
  • Infants, children, and adolescents exposed to adults in high-risk categories
  • Persons who inject illicit drugs or other locally identified high-risk substance users


  • People with HIV, immune suppression illnesses and/or treatments that suppress the immune system
  • Children younger than 5 years of age
  • People infected with M. tuberculosis in the last two years
  • People with a history of untreated or incomplete treatment of TB disease
  • Persons with silicosis; chronic renal failure; leukemia; or cancer of the head, neck, or lung
  • Persons with diabetes mellitus
  • Persons who have had a gastrectomy or jejunoileal bypass
  • Persons with low body weight (<90% of ideal body weight)
  • People who use substances (such as injection drug use)
  • Populations defined locally as having an increased incidence of TB, including medically underserved and low-income populations

Fast Facts

  • Anyone can get TB. Tuberculosis bacteria (TB) is spread through the air. TB cases are found in all states.
  • TB is not a disease of the past. Up to 13 million people in the United States have TB infection. With TB infection you don’t feel sick, don’t have any symptoms, and can’t spread TB.
  • TB can happen anywhere. However, without treatment 5%-10% of people with TB infection will develop TB disease at some point. The risk is much higher for people with certain medical conditions.
  • TB infection can be treated. Treatment is effective and can prevent the development of TB disease.
  • If you’re at high risk for TB infection, talk to your healthcare provider about testing and treatment. If you’ve spent time with someone with TB disease or someone with symptoms of TB, you should be tested.
TB disease can be treated by taking several medications for 4 to 12 months. It’s very important that people who have TB disease finish the medicine, and take the medications exactly as prescribed. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider for more information.

Learn more about TB by visiting the  SC DHEC's TB webpage at or by visiting the South Carolina Tuberculosis Association's webpage at

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