World TB Day is observed on 24th March 2019 this year. The theme for this year is "It’s time". The theme has a very strong message for everyone to take steps to prevent TB, cure TB and make the world TB-free. Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects your lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.
TB affects all age groups and all parts of the world. However, it is more prevalent in developing countries. India is the country with the highest burden of TB. The World Health Organisation (WHO) TB statistics for India for 2016 give an estimated incidence figure of 2.79 million cases of TB for India.
Fast facts on Tuberculosis
Here are some key points about tuberculosis:
- The World Health Organization estimates that 9 million people a year get sick with TB, with 3 million of these "missed" by health systems.
- TB is among the top 3 causes of death for women aged 15 to 44.
- TB symptoms may be mild for many months, and people ill with TB can infect up to 10-15 other people through close contact over the course of a year.
- TB is an airborne pathogen, meaning that the bacteria that cause TB can spread through the air from person to person.
Although your body may harbour the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB), your immune system usually can prevent you from becoming sick. For this reason, doctors make a distinction between:
- Latent TB: In this condition, you have a TB infection, but the bacteria remain in your body in an inactive state and cause no symptoms. Latent TB, also called inactive TB or TB infection, isn’t contagious. It can turn into active TB, so treatment is important for the person with latent TB and to help control the spread of TB.
- Active TB. This condition makes you sick and in most cases can spread to others. It can occur in the first few weeks after infection with the TB bacteria, or it might occur years later.
Signs and symptoms of active TB include:
- Coughing that lasts three or more weeks.
- Coughing up blood.
- Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing.
- Unintentional weight loss.
- Night sweats.
- Loss of appetite.
Many strains of tuberculosis resist the drugs most used to treat the disease. People with active tuberculosis must take several types of medications for many months to eradicate the infection and prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.
Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that spread from person to person through microscopic droplets released into the air. This can happen when someone with the untreated, active form of tuberculosis coughs, speaks, sneezes, spits, laughs or sings.
Although tuberculosis is contagious, it’s not easy to catch. You’re much more likely to get tuberculosis from someone you live with or work with than from a stranger. Most people with active TB who’ve had appropriate drug treatment for at least two weeks are no longer contagious.
A healthy immune system often successfully fights TB bacteria, but your body can’t mount an effective defence if your resistance is low. Here are a few conditions which increase your risk of TB:
- Severe kidney disease.
- Certain cancers or their treatment.
- Drugs to prevent rejection of transplanted organs.
- Very young or advanced age.
Without treatment, tuberculosis can be fatal. The untreated active disease typically affects your lungs, but it can spread to other parts of your body through your bloodstream. Examples of tuberculosis complications include:
- Spinal pain.
- Joint damage.
- Swelling of the membranes that cover your brain (meningitis).
- Liver or kidney problems.
- Heart disorders.
Protect your family and friends
If you have active TB, keep your germs to yourself. It generally takes a few weeks of treatment with TB medications before you’re not contagious anymore. Follow these tips to help keep your friends and family from getting sick:
- Stay home. Don’t go to work or school or sleep in a room with other people during the first few weeks of treatment for active tuberculosis.
- Ventilate the room. Tuberculosis germs spread more easily in small closed spaces where air doesn’t move.
- Cover your mouth. Use a tissue to cover your mouth anytime you laugh, sneeze or cough. Put the dirty tissue in a bag, seal it and throw it away.
- Wear a mask. Wearing a surgical mask when you’re around other people during the first three weeks of treatment may help lessen the risk of transmission.
- Finish your entire course of medication. This is very important when you stop treatment early or skip doses, TB bacteria have a chance to develop mutations that allow them to survive the most potent TB drugs.
Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is a vaccine for children for tuberculosis (TB) disease. It is a part of infant immunizations. Make sure your child gets it as a part of his/ her healthcare program.
Are you suffering from severe cough for several weeks? It is time to investigate further and get tested for Tuberculosis. Consult doctors at our Pulmonary medicine department for more details. Please find below link: