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This World TB Day, Unite to End Tuberculosis

Quick TB Facts

  • TB is the chief killer worldwide
  • In 2015, it killed 35 % of people with HIV; 1.8 million of 10.4 million individuals infected with TB;1 million children ill with TB and 170000 died of TB
  • About 480 000 people developed multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB)
  • India tops the list of the six countries that account for 60% of TB deaths
  • HIV positive people are more prone to die of TB
  • Proper diagnosis and treatment saved 49 million lives between 2000-15

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that primarily affects lungs. However, it can affect other body parts too. Given the facts, it is no surprise that 1/3rd of the population is estimated to be infected with TB. But, what causes it? It is caused by bacteria, namely, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). Although a bacterial infection, it can claim lives if left untreated. The good news is, TB is curable and preventable.

How TB spreads and what are its classic symptoms?

TB is an airborne disease. When a person with lung TB sneezes, coughs or spits, the propelled microbes get into the air. The infected air, when inhaled, makes the normal person sick. People with HIV and smokers have a high risk of getting infected with this form of TB. The infection shows its ugliness in two forms- Latent Tuberculosis and Active Disease.

Latent TB- This form is usually asymptomatic, without any symptoms. Approximately, 10% of the latent infections advance to active disease.

Active TB– The symptoms range from a chronic cough with bloody or rusty sputum, to chest pain, general weakness, fever, night sweats, weight loss, etc.

Prevention is better than cure!

The Diagnosis: The diagnosis of active TB is based on chest X-rays and sputum smear microscopy. Whereas, the latent form depends on the tuberculin skin test (TST) or blood tests. Microscopy technique fails to detect the drug-resistant forms. Hence Rapid Test Xpert MTB/ RIF is encouraged by WHO.

The Prevention:

  • Screening the high-risk individuals-households, workplaces, and social contacts of people with active TB
  • Timely detection and treatment of cases
  • Vaccination with the bacillus Calmette-Guerin

The Treatment: This involves the long-term (6-month course) use of multiple antibiotics under the supervision of certified health worker. However, with alarming rates of multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR- TB), antibiotic resistance is becoming a challenging affair.

One of the major aims of the recently embraced Sustainable Development Goals is to wind up TB epidemic by 2030. Therefore, pledge to spread awareness and spread health. This World TB Day, stand united to eradicate TB.