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Just a few years ago it was believed that TB was an old disease, and that it was no

longer a problem in humans. But now because of such issues as drug resistance and
HIV, it has become a major worldwide problem again. Worldwide more people die
from the disease than from any other infectious disease.

1. Definition
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that usually affects the lungs. Compared
with other diseases caused by a single infectious agent, tuberculosis is the second
biggest killer, globally. Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium
tuberculosis)
2. Clasification
Doctors make a distinction between two kinds of tuberculosis
infection: latent and active.
Latent TB - the bacteria remain in the body in an inactive state. They cause
no symptoms and are not contagious, but they can become active.
Active TB - the bacteria do cause symptoms and can be transmitted to
others.
About one-third of the world's population is believed to have latent TB.
There is a 10 percent chance of latent TB becoming active, but this risk is much
higher in people who have compromised immune systems, i.e., people living
with HIVor malnutrition, or people who smoke.

3. What are the symptoms?


The symptoms depend on which area of the body has been infected. If someone
has pulmonary disease, which is TB in the lungs, then they may have a bad
cough that lasts longer than two weeks. They may also have pain in their chest
and they may cough up blood or phlegm from deep inside their lungs.
Other symptoms of TB include weakness or fatigue, weight loss, lack of appetite,
chills, fever and night sweats
4. Diagnosis
It is very difficult to diagnose TB by a person’s symptoms on their own. This is
because some other diseases have the same symptoms.
A diagnosis is usually only certain when there is definite evidence of TB
bacteria. Some of the TB tests used for diagnosis look directly for the bacteria.
Others such as the chest X-ray look for the effect of the bacteria on the person
suspected of having TB. Tests for diagnosis include the TB skin test, sputum
microscopy, the culture test as well as the new Genexpert test.
Major problems with the older tests are the lack of accuracy as well as the time
they take. With newer tests a major issue is the cost.
However, there are other tests that are available to diagnose TB. Blood tests,
chest X-rays, and sputum tests can all be used to test for the presence of TB
bacteria and may be used alongside a skin test.
5. Treatment
People with latent TB may need just one kind of TB antibiotics, whereas
people with active TB (particularly MDR-TB) will often require a prescription of
multiple drugs.
Antibiotics are usually required to be taken for a relatively long time. The
standard length of time for a course of TB antibiotics is about 6 months.
It is important for any course of treatment to be completed fully, even if the
TB symptoms have gone away. Any bacteria that have survived the treatment
could become resistant to the medication that has been prescribed and could lead
to developing MDR-TB in the future.
Directly observed therapy (DOT) may be recommended. This involves a
healthcare worker administering the TB medication to ensure that the course of
treatment is completed.
6. Prevention
A few general measures can be taken to prevent the spread of active TB.
Avoiding other people by not going to school or work, or sleeping in the same
room as someone, will help to minimize the risk of germs from reaching anyone
else.
Wearing a mask, covering the mouth, and ventilating rooms can also limit
the spread of bacteria.

How do you get TB?

TB is spread from one person to another through the air. You get TB by breathing in
TB bacteria that are in the air. Bacteria get released into the air by someone who
already has the bacteria in their body.
How Is It Spread?

Through the air, just like a cold or the flu. When someone who’s sick coughs,
sneezes, talks, laughs, or sings, tiny droplets that contain the germs are released. If
you breathe in these nasty germs, you get infected.

TB is contagious, but it’s not easy to catch. The germs grow slowly. You usually
have to spend a lot of time around a person who has it. That’s why it’s often spread
among co-workers, friends, and family members.

Tuberculosis germs don’t thrive on surfaces. You can’t get the disease from shaking
hands with someone who has it, or by sharing their food or drink.