Tuberculosis (TB) was nearly eradicated in the 1950s with medicines. According to the CDC, TB is at a record low for the United States with under 9,600 reported cases for 2013. How much do you know about TB? Here are a few interesting, but not well-known, facts about TB.
1) CDC reports that TB usually attacks the lungs, but it can also attack the kidney, spine and brain.
2) The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. However, you cannot contract TB through kissing, sharing food/drinks or using an infected person’s toothbrush. (CDC)
3) According to WebMD, most people exposed to TB never develop symptoms because the bacteria can live in an inactive form in the body. The inactive form, called latent TB, can become activated if the person has a low immune system or various other medical conditions that interfere with the body getting rid of the bacteria.
CDC reports that 1/3 of the world’s population is infected with TB (inactive form) and 9 million of those people developed the disease (the active form).
4) In CDC’s report, four states — California, Florida, New York and Texas — reported more than half of all TB cases in 2013 for the United States.
5) Race and country of birth play into the likelihood of contracting TB. The CDC report states that blacks and Hispanics have a rate of TB seven times higher than whites. Asians have the most with the rate being 26 times higher than whites. TB is also thirteen times higher for foreign-born residents than for people born in the United States.
Although medicine is making great strides in the fight against TB, be aware of the symptoms and see a doctor if you think you may have TB. The disease can be fatal if left unchecked. Here are the symptoms of TB from NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases:
- A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Coughing up blood or mucus
- Weakness or fatigue
- Night sweats