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How can TB be prevented from being spread?

Q: My father is suffering from tuberculosis (TB). He is under treatment in a hospital in Delhi. They are about to discharge him. I have a small child in my family. What necessary precautions should my father take to avoid transmitting the disease?

A:The most important way to avoid spreading TB is to ensure that your father takes all medicines, exactly as directed by the doctor. You also need to ensure that he keeps all his clinic appointments, since the doctor needs to see how he is doing. Your father may need another chest X-ray or a test of the sputum, which will show whether the medicine is working or not. They will also show whether your father can still give TB bacteria to others. If your father is infectious while at home, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself and others near you. Follow these guidelines to protect yourself and others: The most important thing is to take the anti-TB medicine. Ask your father to always cover his mouth with a tissue when he coughs, sneezes, or laughs. Put the tissue in a closed bag and throw it away. Do not let your father go to work. Separate him from others and avoid his close contact with anyone. You could ask him to sleep in a separate bedroom, away from other family members. Air out the room often to the outside of the building (if it is not too cold outside). TB spreads in small closed spaces where air doesn't move. Put a fan in the window to blow out (exhaust) air that may be filled with TB bacteria. If you open other windows in the room, the fan also will pull in fresh air. This will reduce the chances that TB bacteria will stay in the room and infect someone who breathes the air. Remember, TB is spread through the air. People cannot get infected with TB bacteria through handshakes, sitting on toilet seats, or sharing dishes and utensils with someone who has TB. After taking medicine for about 2 or 3 weeks, your father may no longer be able to spread TB bacteria to others. If your doctor agrees, your father will be able to go back to his daily routine. Remember, he will get well only if he takes his medicine exactly as the doctor told him. Think about people who may have spent time with your father, such as family members, close friends, and coworkers. The health authorities may need to test them for latent TB infection. TB is especially dangerous for children and people with HIV infection. If infected with TB bacteria, these people need medicine right away to keep from developing active TB disease.

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