Tuberculosis (TB) Prevention and Control Program

​​​The state TB​ prevention program aims to eliminate​ TB as a public health issue by coordinating and focusing disease-control activities on three main goals:

  • Rendering all individuals with active TB disease as non-infectious.
  • Ensuring all individuals with latent TB infection remain non-infectious.
  • Ensuring all individuals without TB infection do not become infected.

State employees, local health department employees and private health care providers carry out TB control activities. Funds are allocated to designated local health departments to serve as local lead agencies for the TB control program. State-level public health personnel provide program planning, implementation and evaluation, program performance standards, technical assistance and consultation including X-ray, nursing, medical, clerical statistical, financial and managerial support, training and disease surveillance.​

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is an airborne disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis which primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other organs. People infected with TB do not feel sick, do not have symptoms, and are not contagious unless and until their infection develops into active TB disease. TB bacteria may be released into the air by TB-diseased persons when they sneeze, cough or speak.

How Tuberculosis Spreads (PDF, 143 KB)

The Difference Between TB Disease and TB Infection

Once the TB germ enters the body infection occurs. However, most people's immune systems stop the TB infection from growing and the TB germ goes into an inactive state. An inactive infection does not cause sickness or symptoms and cannot be transmitted to others. Still, a person with TB infection will test positive for TB and may develop TB disease in the future without preventive therapy.

If the immune system cannot make the TB germ inactive, the infected person will have active TB disease. People with TB disease in the throat or lungs can easily spread the TB bacteria. People with TB disease in the brain, kidneys or spine cannot spread the TB bacteria and are not infectious.

If you have active, uncomplicated TB disease, you must complete a six- to 12-month treatment with three to four TB drugs that must be prescribed by a doctor.

TB Symptoms

  • A bad cough lasting more than two weeks
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chest pains
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Fever
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Chills

Who should get a TB test?

You should be tested for TB infection if:

  • You have spent time with someone with infectious TB.
  • You live in an environment where TB disease is common, including some nursing homes and most homeless shelters, prisons, jails and migrant farm camps.
  • You think you might have TB disease.
  • You are from a country where TB disease is common, such as countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.
  • You have HIV infection or another condition that places you at high risk for TB disease.
  • You inject drugs and/or share needles.

Those at high risk for TB disease include:

  • People living with HIV or other diseases that weaken the immune system.
  • People who became infected with TB within the last two years.
  • People who share needles and/or inject drugs.
  • People who have had close contact with someone who has infectious TB.

TB Testing & Treatment

A TB skin test is an easy way to determine whether you have a TB infection. It can be performed at your local health department or doctor's office.

How is TB Testing Done?

The skin test for TB is simple. A small amount of testing fluid is injected just under the skin on the lower arm. Two or three days after the test, a healthcare worker will measure the skin reaction to the test to determine whether the test is positive or negative for TB infection. A positive result usually means you have TB infection. If you test positive, other tests will be performed to determine whether or not you have developed TB disease. These tests can include chest x-rays and laboratory tests.

What are the Treatments for TB?

People who test positive for TB infection may take medications to keep from developing TB disease. This usually involves using a drug called isoniazid (INH), which kills inactive TB bacteria and prevents the development of active TB disease. INH is usually taken for 6-9 months. Occasionally, individuals at higher risk for TB are given medication even if they test negative for TB infection. Anyone who tests positive for TB but does not receive preventive therapy must see a doctor immediately if any TB symptoms develop.

Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) Tuberculosis

A drug-resistant strain of TB bacteria will not respond to drugs ordinarily used to treat the disease. These strains develop when people with active TB disease do not take their medicine as prescribed and the bacteria develop resistance to the drug. Drug-resistant TB is a very serious problem and very expensive and difficult to treat.

Drug resistance is common among patients who:

  • Have been exposed to someone with drug-resistant TB.
  • Do not take their medication regularly.
  • Do not take all of their medication.
  • Develop TB again after taking TB medication in the past.
  • Come from areas where drug-resistant TB is common (Southeast Asia, Latin America and some Caribbean countries)

World TB Day

Kentucky's World TB Day Campaign

Kentucky's 2024 Campaign Toolkit (Virtual Pet Walk)

This year's event has a twist! It focuses on promoting health and wellness by completing TB treatment with the help of some of our most trusted friends - our pets. Our pets make us happier and healthier and provide a positive support system for all of us.

The campaign toolkit includes the following items related to Kentucky's 2024 World TB Day event, the Virtual Pet Walk.

2024 World TB Day Campaign Full Toolkit (ZIP, 38.4 MB)
2024 WTBD Pet Walk Wearable Bibs (ZIP, 37.6 MB)
2024 WTBD Save the Date (PDF, 826 KB)

Kentucky's 2023 Campaign Toolkit (Virtual Walk)

The campaign toolkit includes the following items related to Kentucky's 2023 World TB Day event, the Virtual Walk "1.5 Miles for 1.5 Million"

​2023 Wearable Virtual Walk Bib (with Talking Points)​​​ (PDF, 367 KB)
2023 Social Media Graphic (PDF, 253 KB)
2023 8x11 Flyer (PDF, 319 KB)
2023 4x6 Flyer​​ (PDF, 254 KB)

CDC's World TB Day

Check out the CDC's World TB Day links below for additional educational resources and ideas for promoting World TB Day.

World TB Day​​ (2024)
Digital Toolkit (2024)

March is Kentucky's TB Awareness Month

Governor Andy Beshear has proclaimed March as Kentucky's "TB Awareness Month." You can view or download a copy of the proclamation below.


Additional Resources

Resources and Educational Materials for Local Health Departments​

Educational Resource Materials for Patients

C​OVID-19 Vaccine and TB Testing Information

Kentucky TB Data

Kentucky TB Regulations

Kentucky Tuberculosis Program Newsletters​

Sputum Collection Information

TB Forms

TB Resources

The following URLs link to external websites containing content that is not managed by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Additional Information