Tuberculosis, Like Covid, Spreads in Aerosols, Scientists Report - The New York Times
Oct 19, 2021 1 min, 1 sec

As much as 90 percent of TB bacteria released from an infected person may be carried in tiny droplets, called aerosols, that are expelled when a person exhales deeply, the researchers estimated.

The report echoes an important finding of the Covid pandemic: The coronavirus, too, spreads in aerosols carried aloft, particularly in indoor spaces — a route of transmission that was widely underappreciated as the pandemic began to unfold.

Researchers previously believed that most TB transmission occurred when an infected person coughed, spraying droplets containing the bacteria onto others.

Some bacteria were thought to be released when a person breathed, but much less than by coughing.

But if an infected person breathes 22,000 times per day while coughing up to 500 times, then coughing accounts for as little as 7 percent of the total bacteria emitted by an infected patient, Mr.

As with Covid, some TB patients spread the disease to many people — and may release a lot of bacteria — while others infect few people around them.

But even if 90 percent of the bacteria expelled by an infected person were carried in aerosols, this route of transmission wouldn’t necessarily account for 90 percent of new cases, cautioned Dr.

The apparatus can collect aerosols from infected people and identify bacteria within them.


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