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Tuberculosis disease is characterized by the appearance of symptoms, a significant reaction to the Mantoux skin test and TB bacteria found in the sputum.
To spread the TB bacteria, a person must have TB disease. Having TB infection is not enough to spread the bacteria. Tuberculosis may last for a lifetime as an infection, never developing into a disease. However, individuals with TB infection are at considerable risk of developing TB disease, particularly during the first year after acquiring the infection. Additionally, individuals with weakened immune systems such as persons infected with HIV, are at high risk of developing TB disease if TB infection is untreated.