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Tuberculosis (TB) Information and Treatment

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease that spreads from person to person through the air. It usually affects the lungs but can affect any other organ of the body. TB bacteria are expelled into the air when a person with TB disease of the lung/larynx coughs, sneezes, talks, or sings. Once in the air, people that share indoor airspace with the individual may eventually breathe in TB bacteria.

This is what TB infection looks like:



There are two forms of tuberculosis, active TB disease and latent TB infection (LTBI). A person with LTBI does not have symptoms of active TB (cough, fever, and or unexplained fatigue/night sweats/weight loss), or a chest x-ray that indicates active TB disease. People with LTBI cannot spread TB to others - the bacteria are not active. This infection is treatable; once an individual completes treatment, it will help prevent the active form from developing in the future. 

If LTBI is not treated, there is an approximate 5-10% lifetime risk of the infection progressing to active TB disease. The risk may be further increased if the individual’s immune system is compromised. Once a person has active TB of the lungs, they can spread it to others through the air. TB disease is curable, but the treatment is long with multiple medications.


English version created by TB Free California Initiative. Additional videos can be found on the CDPH Community Resources page.
Spanish and Tagalog versions created by San Diego County’s Tuberculosis Control and Refugee Health Program

Tuberculosis in Santa Cruz County

Tuberculosis in California

In California, there are approximately:

  • 2,000 cases of active TB per year
  • 200 deaths attributed to TB per year
  • $200 million in TB costs spent per year
  • 2 million residents have latent TB infection, and only approximately 20% know their diagnosis.

* Adam Readhead, Epidemiologist Ph.D. MPH / CDPH TBCB Virtual Orientation 5-19-21 (Remember the 2’s, slide 2 of 18)

In 2019, California had:

  • An estimated 5% of TB cases imported from outside the United States
  • 13% of cases result from recent transmission
  • 82 % of cases attributed to the progression of LTBI to active TB
  • 82% of cases occur in persons who were born outside the United States

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Per the California TB Elimination Plan:

Local health departments have successfully curtailed TB transmission in California. Now most new TB cases in California result from a longstanding latent TB infection (LTBI) that, in many persons, progresses to active TB disease. There are an estimated 2.4 million persons with LTBI in California. This reservoir of TB infection must be addressed to achieve a further reduction in TB disease. The specific focus of the plan is to ensure the identification and treatment of individuals with LTBI in California who are likely to progress to TB disease. This plan is designed to facilitate collaboration among public health TB programs and private and public partners toward the common goal: a California free of TB.

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Santa Cruz County’s incidence for TB is low compared to that of California, approximately 1.3 versus 5.3 cases / 100,000 in 2019. Even though we have a low case count on average, it’s paramount that we continue to treat those with active TB and diligently work to identify people with LTBI. By ensuring they complete treatment, we can prevent progression to active TB and curb transmission. We will participate in California’s goal to eliminate TB and honor the tremendous work started in the 1930s to decrease TB case numbers.

Curry International Tuberculosis Center

California Department of Public Health, TB Control Branch

  • Contact via email
  • Telephone: (510) 620-3000

Santa Cruz County Tuberculosis Program Services

The County TB Program provides case management and clinical consultation for patients with active TB disease that reside in Santa Cruz County. A public health nurse is assigned to every confirmed case of active TB to promote full patient participation in treatment, exams, and isolation. Contact investigations are completed for all cases of pulmonary/laryngeal TB. The program also investigates patients with presumptive TB that medical providers, and or laboratories report.

We provide resources to medical providers for screening and treatment of Latent TB Infection (LTBI).

Contact Us for More Information

County Communicable Disease Unit:  
(831) 454-4114