Pediatric tuberculosis is an airborne bacterial infection that attacks the lungs. The bacteria can enter the bloodstream and infect other parts of the body.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease of the lungs caused by bacteria that spreads through the air when someone coughs, sneezes or talks. Not everyone infected with TB will show symptoms, depending on the type.
There are two types of tuberculosis: latent and active.
- Latent TB — describes when the disease is not active. These people do not exhibit symptoms. Instead, TB is confirmed through a skin or blood test.
- Active TB — when TB becomes active, the bacteria multiply and move through the blood or lymphatic system to different parts of the body. The bacteria can attack the lymph nodes, bones, kidney, brain, spine, and even the skin.
Most children exposed to TB do not get sick. Those most at risk include children who:
- Are under 5-years-old
- Have weakened immune systems
- Live in communities that receive inadequate medical care
- Live in a household with an adult who has active tuberculosis or has a high risk of contracting TB
- Live in a shelter or with someone who has been in jail
- Were born in a country or visit a country with a high prevalence of TB
A skin test or blood test reveals a tuberculosis infection. Even if it’s not an active infection, doctors may still prescribe medicine to keep children from developing active TB.
Active TB Symptoms
- Constant fatigue (tiredness)
- Coughing up blood
- Heavy and fast breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Night sweats
- Persistent cough
- Swollen glands
- Weight loss and poor growth