The word bacillus may be used to describe any rod-shaped bacterium, and such bacilli are found in many different taxonomic groups of bacteria. However, the name Bacillus, capitalized and italicized, refers to a specific genus of bacteria...
) is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease
Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...
caused by various strains of mycobacteria
Mycobacterium is a genus of Actinobacteria, given its own family, the Mycobacteriaceae. The genus includes pathogens known to cause serious diseases in mammals, including tuberculosis and leprosy...
, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a pathogenic bacterial species in the genus Mycobacterium and the causative agent of most cases of tuberculosis . First discovered in 1882 by Robert Koch, M...
. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lung
The lung is the essential respiration organ in many air-breathing animals, including most tetrapods, a few fish and a few snails. In mammals and the more complex life forms, the two lungs are located near the backbone on either side of the heart...
s but can also affect other parts of the body. It is spread through the air when people who have an active MTB infection cough, sneeze, or otherwise transmit their saliva through the air. Most infections in humans result in an asymptomatic
In medicine, a disease is considered asymptomatic if a patient is a carrier for a disease or infection but experiences no symptoms. A condition might be asymptomatic if it fails to show the noticeable symptoms with which it is usually associated. Asymptomatic infections are also called subclinical...
, latent infection, and about one in ten latent infections eventually progresses to active disease, which, if left untreated, kills more than 50% of those infected.
The classic symptoms are a chronic cough
A cough is a sudden and often repetitively occurring reflex which helps to clear the large breathing passages from secretions, irritants, foreign particles and microbes...
Hemoptysis or haemoptysis is the expectoration of blood or of blood-stained sputum from the bronchi, larynx, trachea, or lungs Hemoptysis or haemoptysis is the expectoration (coughing up) of blood or of blood-stained sputum from the bronchi, larynx, trachea, or lungs Hemoptysis or haemoptysis ...
Sputum is mucus that is coughed up from the lower airways. It is usually used for microbiological investigations of respiratory infections....
Fever is a common medical sign characterized by an elevation of temperature above the normal range of due to an increase in the body temperature regulatory set-point. This increase in set-point triggers increased muscle tone and shivering.As a person's temperature increases, there is, in...
, night sweats, and weight loss
Weight loss, in the context of medicine, health or physical fitness, is a reduction of the total body mass, due to a mean loss of fluid, body fat or adipose tissue and/or lean mass, namely bone mineral deposits, muscle, tendon and other connective tissue...
(the last giving rise to the formerly prevalent colloquial term "consumption").