Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. It is an airborne bacterial infection that usually affects the lungs but can also attack almost any part of the body. People suffering from TB in their lungs can spread the bacteria in the air when they cough, laugh, sneeze, sing, or even talk. If any other person breathes these germs, he can become infected with tuberculosis.
TB is a top infectious disease killer worldwide. World Tuberculosis Day is celebrated to raise awareness about the burden of tuberculosis (TB) and the status of TB prevention and control efforts. World TB Day is organized on March 24th and the theme for 2018 is, “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world.”
- India has the highest burden of TB in the world. According to WHO (World Health Organisation) statistics for India, the estimated incidence figure for 2016 was 2.79 million cases of tuberculosis in India.
- TB is a leading killer of HIV-positive people and was responsible for 1 in 3 HIV deaths in 2015.
Things You Need to Know
- It is not easy to become infected with tuberculosis.
- Most infected people have latent TB which means that they have the tuberculosis bacteria in their bodies, but their immune systems protect them from becoming sick and they are not contagious.
- TB can always be treated and cured if you take medicine as directed.
- There are forms of TB that are drug resistant or multi-drug resistant.
- Do not discontinue TB medication without completing the full cycle.
- Symptoms such as a persistent cough, constant fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, blood or mucous in the cough, night sweats need immediate attention.
Assess Your Risk for Contracting Tuberculosis
People in close contact with others who are infected with TB are at a higher risk of catching the infection. These maybe family and friends of a person who has an infectious TB disease, people who have immigrated from areas of the world with high rates of TB, people living with HIV infection, people working or residing in hospitals, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and residential homes for those with HIV are also at a higher risk of catching the disease.
People with weakened immune system are at the highest risk of developing active TB disease. Babies and young children, people with conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, and AIDS/HIV infection, organ transplant recipients, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy come under this category.
Tuberculosis Preventive Measures
- Cover your mouth when you cough and nose when you sneeze.
- If you do not have TB symptoms or an active disease, you must take medications as instructed by your healthcare provider to prevent it from becoming an active tuberculosis disease.
- If you have been in contact with people with tuberculosis infection, you should get yourself tested.
- New-born children and infants should be given Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine to provide protection against TB.
Did You Know?
Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of TB disease and death. More than 20% of TB cases worldwide are a result of smoking.
- WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION. ACCESSED MARCH 14, 2016.
- NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH. ACCESSED MARCH 14, 2016.
- AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION. ACCESSED MARCH 14, 2016.