March 24 is a universal day to raise awareness and help prevention efforts reach individuals all over the world who are suffering from TB. Many of us have heard about TB and probably have had a skin test for TB, but how much do you really know about TB? In honor of Tuberculosis Day, I wanted to share some interesting facts about the disease. Tuberculosis is a highlighy contagious disease caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. Tuberculosis normally affects the lungs but can attack any part of the body.
TB is not spread through shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes, or kissing. TB only infects a person if a nearby person who is infected with TB breathes, coughs, speaks, or sings. TB bacteria spores are released into the air and those nearby may become infected from inhaling it.
TB was recorded in Greek literature using the term phthisis. Hippocrates States in Greek literature that it was the more prevalent disease of his time and killed nearly everyone infected with it. Today TB can be cured but is just a prevalent infecting over 1/3 of the word’s population according to the CDC, in 2011.
Contrary to common myth not everyone who comes in contact with TB will contract it. TB is not easily contracted. You have to be in close contact with someone who has TB for a prolonged amount of time (usually many hours or days). Individuals with weakened immune systems may contract it more easily.
TB can display no symptoms at all in some individuals and some may not even be aware they have contracted TB. Common symptoms of TB can be chest pain, persistent cough, night sweats, fatigue and weakness, loss of appetite, unexpected weight loss, or coughing up blood.
For such a prevalent disease most of us know very little about TB. What is known is that out of the 9 million individuals who contract TB every year, 1/3 of those people go untreated or unnoticed by their public health sector. Many organizations are trying to help raise awareness and hope to reverse the TB epidemic by 2015. Please help raise awareness for TB by donating to the United Nations Foundation Fund for Tuberculosis.
Donate to raise awareness for TB