Tuberculosis is an airborne disease. Meaning, it's spread when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. People can have tuberculosis and never show any signs or symptoms. That's called inactive TB. People that have active TB will display symptoms such as a high fever, night sweats, coughing up blood, and unintentionally
losing a tremendous amount of weight.
Prior to the 20th century, tuberculosis was also sometimes referred to as 'consumption'—a term that was used for weight loss.
In the 1800's, 25% of all deaths in Europe were attributed to tuberculosis. It wasn't until after World War II that TB-related deaths started to steadily decline. This is attributed to the availability of vaccinations, better sanitation, and public health education campaigns. By the late 1940's, less than 10% of deaths were due to TB.
According to the World Health Organization, a little over 1 million people die each year from tuberculosis. An estimated 1,000 of those victims are in the United States. Scientists remain concerned with a new drug-resistant tuberculosis strain emerging.