A friend and work colleague of mine has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, when I took him to the hospital because he was having problems breathing. He had been earlier (falsely) diagnosed with pneumonia. He says I don't need to worry about it because his doctor says he has no "expectoration", and he isn't planning telling anybody when he gets back to work. We work in a crowded open-space/office environment. Is it true that tuberculosis without expectoration is not contagious at all?

  • 2
    Wow, your friend is very mistaken and is putting a lot of people at risk. And you, in fact, should go get tested for TB.
    – Carey Gregory
    Feb 24, 2017 at 2:34
  • Completely agree with Carey. There is a reason why a patient is put in a reverse airflow room and people wear N95 respirators in the room, it doesn't matter if they cough phlegm up or not. Go get tested, and it needs to be reported. Not just for his safety and yours, but everyone else who comes into contact with him.
    – DoctorWhom
    Feb 25, 2017 at 2:45

1 Answer 1


No, it's not true according to the CDC.

The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings.

When you speak you force air out your lungs, and presumably some bacteria can be carried out in this fashion.


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