How you can prevent the spread of TB in your home

How you can prevent the spread of TB in your home

Living with someone who suffers from TB? Here is how you can prevent the spread of TB in your home.

Woman coughing in bed
Woman coughing in bed/ iStock

March 24 marks World TB Day. The day is aimed at raising public awareness about the devastating health, social, and economic consequences of TB. TB is caused when a person breathes in TB bacteria in the air.

According to the World Health Organisation in 2020, South Africa ranked as one of the top 20 countries with high TB infections. reports that an estimated 360,000 South Africans became ill with TB in 2019, and an estimated 58,000 people died from TB.

Which people are likely to get TB:

Although anyone can get TB, according to, the key populations for TB are:

• People living with HIV
• Household contacts of TB patients
• Health care workers
• Inmates
• Pregnant women
• Children < 5 years old
• Mine workers and people in peri-mining communities.

READ: 'Game changer' tuberculosis drug cures 8 in 10

Symptoms of TB:

• A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
• Pain in the chest
• Coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)
• Weakness or fatigue
• Weight loss
• No appetite
• Chills
• Fever
• Sweating at night

How to reduce exposure in households where someone has infectious TB:

The following guide is provided by

- Houses should be adequately ventilated;
- Anyone who coughs should be educated on cough etiquette (covering the mouth with a tissue) and respiratory hygiene.
TB patients should:
- Spend as much time as possible outdoors;
- If possible, sleep alone in a separate, adequately ventilated room;
- Spend as little time as possible on public transport;
- Spend as little time as possible in places where large numbers of people gather together.

Image courtesy of iStock/ @RyanKing999

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