Facts and Questions about Tuberculosis
- What is TB?
- Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium that spreads through the air, usually through coughing
- How common is TB?
- According to the World Health Organization, more than 8.8 million people worldwide are infected with tuberculosis, and almost 1.6 million people per year die from tuberculosis.
- “TB continues to be a really major problem in the world. It’s huge,” Hamilton says.
- Now, due to HIV infection, the rate of TB is also increasing and there are many HIV/TB co-infected people
- How does TB spread?
- TB is caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is spread through the air when someone who has infectious TB coughs or sneezes
- When should we suspect TB?
- When people get sick with tuberculosis, their symptoms may include fever, night sweats, cough, appetite loss, weight loss, bloody phlegm, and loss of energy
- Who gets TB?
- Because the TB bacillis is breathed in it can infect anyone, both rich and poor
- How can I know I have TB?
- Health workers will arrange for an analysis of your sputum.
- Can TB be cured?
- Patients are put on a course of treatment for a period of 6 to 8 months as soon as TB is diagnosed
Common Challenges of Tuberculosis
- Timely detection and correct diagnosis
Early detection of TB is important to prevent further transmission. Diagnosis is often delayed for TB, which can be due to multiple factors: lack of knowledge of the disease in low-incidence settings, non-specific symptoms (especially in the case of HIV co-infection and extrapulmonary TB), and inadequate access to healthcare for vulnerable groups.
- Completion of treatment
Completion of treatment is important to cure patients and prevent transmission. TB treatment involves taking a combination of drugs for several months. The treatment often causes side-effects and can be costly. Unfinished treatment or non-compliance to the prescribed treatment is problematic as it can lead to drug-resistance. TB patients often face difficulties in adhering to treatment and therefore require patient-centered support to enable them to follow a full course of treatment.
- Multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) TB
Variants of TB that are resistant to antibiotics are more difficult and expensive to treat and have higher fatality rates. Their spread is a major challenge to the elimination of TB.
Frightening Facts about Tuberculosis
- HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria kill 6 million people every year nearly 2 million deaths are caused by TB.
- TB is curable but continues to kill 5000 people EACH day
- TB is a disease of poverty. Virtually all TB deaths occur in the developing world, affecting mostly young adults in their most productive years
- TB is a leading cause of death among people living with HIV as their immune system is weakened. A quarter of TB deaths are HIV associated and most of them are in Africa
- Global TB incidence is growing by 1% each year because of the rapid increase in Africa.
- 2 billion people (1/3 of the World’s population are infected with TB bacilli, the germ that causes TB infection and disease. 1 in 10 persons infected with the bacilli will develop TB disease.
- TB is contagious and spreads through the air. If not treated each person with TB infects on average 10 to 15 others each year
- TB is a worldwide pandemic
- Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR – TB) is a form of TB that does not respond to standard drug treatment. MDR – TB is currently a major hurdle in the fight against TB.