is typical TB different from Atypical TB?
A. Typical TB a is contagious form of TB spread by
aerosolized particles containing the
bacteria with human to human transmission. It is
fatal if not treated.
Atypical TB, of which MAC (Mycobacterium avium-complex)
is one type ( other types being M.Kansasii etc
) is not spread from human to human , but is present
in the environment and affects and infects specific
groups of persons. You do not have to be HIV positive
to get infected with MAC, although in HIV it may
progress faster. The other groups of individuals
this infects include those with chronic lung disease
such as Emphysema/COPD/ Sarcoidoisis and in some
cases middle age women with apparently normal lungs.
are the symptoms of ATYPICAL TB?
A. Atypical TB may
be totally asymptomatic or produce a variety
of symptoms depending upon the immune
status of the person. If present in persons
with HIV infection, the symptoms may range from
illness to swollen glands, diarrhea, weight
loss and abdominal pain. Respiratory symptoms in
HIV and non HIV persons may include cough,
fever, chills, night sweats, coughing up of blood
Atypical TB treatable?
A. Yes, provided adequate multi-drug
therapy is available, taken and adhered to
by the patient. It is however
more difficult to treat than regular or typical
TB and the cure rates are between 40-70%.
It can recur more frequently too.
patients with Atypical TB need to be isolated or
wear masks etc?
A. Atypical TB is not contagious and
does not have
human to human transmission. One does not
have to isolate these patients or have
them wear masks
etc. However, your doctor may opt to do that
till he /she is sure that the patient
does not have
typical TB since at times, both infections
I am told I have Atypical TB, what should I do?
A. You should discuss the need for treatment,
treatment plan and options with
your physicians. Academic
centers have experts dealing with this problem
who can work with your physicians and guide
you. Once it is determined that
you do require treatment,
obtaining the medicines and taking them as
required are the cornerstone of
the treatment plan.
the Chest X-ray in case of typical TB different
from Atypical TB?
A. No. Although subtle differences
may exist, and more so on CT scans, it is
very difficult to distinguish
typical TB from atypical TB based on the X-ray
alone [Atypical TB x-ray 1 - Atypical TB x-ray
2] . It is therefore very important to detect
infections by repeated sputum studies and
that is why your doctor may
ask for repeated tests.