Home Respiratory Precautions for Patients with Potentially Infectious Tuberculosis

Information to help prevent the spread of tuberculosis (TB) for patients who are potentially infectious.

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Your tests show that you may have the kind of tuberculosis (TB) that can spread to other people. You don’t need to be in the hospital right now. Your doctor may have prescribed medications to treat TB. Health care workers may wear a mask to protect themselves when they are in your home.

You should not be around babies, young children or people who have a weak immune system from diseases like HIV or cancer. This is because they have a hard time fighting infections. Children younger than 5 years old who live in your home can stay with you after the children are checked for TB by a doctor and are taking medicine to prevent them from getting sick with TB disease.

Here are some very important things you should do to prevent spreading your TB germs to other people:

  • Always cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Some people cough less when they drink warm liquids.
  • While at home, spend only a short time in rooms that other people use like the bathroom or kitchen. You do not need to wear a mask at home while around family members who have been living with you.
  • Do not let visitors come to your house except for health care workers. Do not go to visit other people.
  • If you can, use a fan or open the windows in your home. This helps to move the air around. You may go outside of your home in the open air without your mask.
  • Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) is the best way to cure your TB. Your doctor and public health nurse will tell you about DOT. A health care worker will bring your TB medicine to you and will watch you take it. Be sure to tell your health care worker if you have any problems or questions about your TB medicine.
  • Do not go to work, school, your place of worship, the library, or public places like the grocery store and post office.
  • Do not use public transportation including buses, taxicabs, trains, and airplanes.
  • You should go to all of your medical appointments. Your doctor will check you and make sure the TB medicine is working. If you miss an appointment, it may take longer to cure your TB.
  • Your doctor or nurse will give you a special face mask. Wear this mask when you go to the clinic or hospital.
  • Your doctor or public health nurse will tell you when you can stop using your mask and return to normal activities.

If you have questions about TB or your treatment talk to your doctor or public health nurse.

Adapted from: New York City Department of Health. Hospitalization and Community Discharge of TB Patients Protocol in Clinical Practices Manual, 2004.

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for Preventing the Transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Health-Care Settings, 2005. MMWR 2005; 54(No. RR-17): [38, 45].

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Controlling tuberculosis in the United States: recommendations from the American Thoracic Society, CDC, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America. MMWR 2005; 54(No. RR-12): [28].

Updated Monday, 29-Jul-2013 14:36:47 CDT