World Tuberculosis Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about the burden of tuberculosis (commonly called TB) worldwide and the status of TB prevention and control efforts. The theme for the year 2020 is “It’s Time to end TB”.
The spotlight this year is on urgent acceleration of TB response actions to save lives and end suffering.
Tuberculosis is a contagious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body such as the brain, kidney and spine. It is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis.
TB can be spread through sneezing or coughing. A person needs to only inhale a few TB germs propelled into the air to become infected.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet on the disease, Tuberculosis is one of the top ten causes of death worldwide. It is also the leading cause of death from a single infectious agent (above HIV/AIDS), worldwide.
Here are some facts about this disease:
Facts about Tuberculosis
- TB is not spread by coming in contact with an infected person either by;
- Shaking hands.
- Sharing food and drink.
- Touching bed linens or toilet seats
- Sharing toothbrushes
- Smoking or sharing cigarettes.
- TB occurs in every part of the world. However, according to WHO, in 2018 the 30 countries with high TB burdens accounted for 87% of new TB cases. Eight countries account for two-thirds of the total, with India leading the count, followed by China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and South Africa.
- Early detection of TB is important to prevent further transmission.
- TB isn’t spread by a casual encounter. It usually takes a lot of time spent in close contact with someone contagious to get TB.
- TB is a contagious disease but only people that are sick with pulmonary or lung tuberculosis are infectious.
- Like the common cold infection, TB spreads through the air when infectious people cough, sneeze, talk or spit.
- People with HIV are many times more likely to get TB and to progress from being inactive to active disease than people who aren’t HIV positive.
Symptoms of Tuberculosis
- Cough lasting for more than two-three weeks
- Cough with a lot of mucus, sometimes blood
- Chest pain
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Night sweat
- Prolonged fever
TB is treatable and curable. However, people infected with TB can die if they do not get proper treatment. The treatment spans for at least 6 months but sometimes takes longer.
It is very important that individuals who have TB illness are treated, complete the medication, and take the drugs precisely as prescribed. If they stop taking the drugs too soon, they can become sick again; if they do not take the drugs accurately, the TB bacteria that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs. TB that is resistant to drugs is harder and more costly to treat.