Tuberculosis risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Mashal Awais, M.D.[2]; João André Alves Silva, M.D. [3]


The risk factors for developing tuberculosis include: living or traveling to endemic areas for TB, elderly people and infants, immunosuppression, history of frequent or prolonged contact with infected patients, IV drug users, smoking, bad hygiene, and poor nutrition. In addition, the risk factors for multidrug-resistant TB include: non-adherence to treatment regimen, inadequate treatment for that bacterial strain, and contact with patients with multidrug-resistant TB.

Risk Factors

Primary TB, which represents 1-5% cases, occurs after infection. However, most of the cases occur with latent infection which is asymptomatic. The dormant bacilli can cause tuberculosis in 2 to 23% of the latent cases, usually several years following the primary infection.[1] The risk of reactivation is much higher with immunosuppression, such as HIV. In patients with HIV coinfection, the risk of reactivation increases reaching up to 10% per year.

The following are risk factors for active TB:[2][3]

  • Or those taking medications, such as:

The risk of contracting TB increases in cases where there is:[2]

The following factors may increase the rate of TB infection in a population:[2]

Drugs With Increased Risk of Tuberculosis Reactivation

Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Drug resistance is more common in people who:[5]

  • Do not take their TB medicine regularly
  • Do not take all of their TB medicine as told by their doctor or nurse
  • Develop TB disease again, after having taken TB medicine in the past
  • Come from areas of the world where drug-resistant TB is common
  • Have spent time with someone known to have drug-resistant TB disease


  1. Parrish N, Dick J, Bishai W (1998). "Mechanisms of latency in Mycobacterium tuberculosis". Trends Microbiol. 6 (3): 107–12. PMID 9582936.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Tuberculosis Fact Sheet".
  3. Griffith D, Kerr C (1996). "Tuberculosis: disease of the past, disease of the present". J Perianesth Nurs. 11 (4): 240–5. PMID 8964016.
  4. Mutlu G, Mutlu E, Bellmeyer A, Rubinstein I (2006). "Pulmonary adverse events of anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha antibody therapy". Am J Med. 119 (8): 639–46. PMID 16887405.
  5. "Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis".

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