World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is celebrated on 24 March 2017 to raise awareness of TB and its impacts.
What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis usually known as TB, is a common and often deadly infectious disease that mainly affect the lungs, but can be found in any other body organ. It is caused by a germ called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis.
How do people get TB?
The disease is spread through the air, passed on from person to person. When a person that has TB coughs, sneezes or spits, germs are spread through the air where they can be breathed in. Those infected with TB stop contaminating others after being on TB treatment for 2 to 3 weeks.
Who is at risk of having TB?
• Those in close contact with TB patients
• Children under 5 years
• HIV infected patients
• People with other diseases like diabetes and cancer
• People who take excessive alcohol and drugs
• People with poor nutrition
Signs and symptoms of TB
• Cough for longer than 2 weeks
• Chest pain
• Tiredness and weakness of the body
• Loss of appetite and weight
• Night sweats, even when it is cold
• Coughing blood
How is TB diagnosed?
TB can be diagnosed in several different ways, including, analysis of sputum, chest x-rays and skin test.
Treatment of TB
It takes 6 months for TB to be cured completely, but within 2 weeks of starting treatment, the person will no longer spread the disease.
What will happen if you interrupt or not complete your treatment?
You will die from lung destruction and /or you will develop Multidrug Resistant TB (MDR-TB), a type of TB that is more difficult to cure.
What is the treatment for MDR-TB?
• Treatment takes up to two years
• You will stay in hospital for four to six months or more
• For the first four months you will get a daily injection
• You will also get pills every day
TB and HIV interaction
In people with healthy immune systems, only 10% of those who are infected with TB ever become sick from TB. However, over 50% of people who are co-infected with TB and HIV will get sick with TB before they die. HIV increases the risk of developing TB. Not all HIV-positive people have TB. Not all people with TB are HIV-positive.
TB in the workplace
Once a person has been on TB treatment for 2 weeks and has taken the treatment as prescribed by the doctor, they are not infectious.
How can TB be prevented?
• Immunisation of all babies at the clinic within 1 year of birth
• Eating balanced meals
• Getting some sunshine and fresh air, ventilate your home, exercise and living in a clean environment