Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. When the bacteria enter your body, you can develop serious infections.

TB often affects the lungs. This is known as pulmonary TB and can be contagious. TB can also affect the bones, lymph nodes, vertebrae or other parts of the body. These types of TB are not contagious. TB can be successfully treated. It is rare in the Netherlands.

What are the symptoms of TB?

Symptoms of TB may include the following:

  • Persistent coughing (in cases of pulmonary TB) and coughing up mucus* 
  • Night sweats 
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing

* People who have had TB for a longer period may cough up blood.

‘Infected with tuberculosis’ or ‘ill with tuberculosis’: what is the difference?
Not everyone who is infected by the tuberculosis bacterium will actually become ill with tuberculosis. Only one out of 10 people will become ill. This may happen after a few months or not until years later. The likelihood of becoming ill after being infected is greatest in the first two years. 
When the tuberculosis bacterium is present in your body but you are not ill, you are ‘infected with tuberculosis’. In this case, you are not contagious to others.