Tuberculosis, a highly infectious disease is even more tragic because it is curable. In an effort to bring more awareness to the symptoms of tuberculosis or TB, organizations around the world have chosen March 23 as Tuberculosis Awareness Day. The CDC or Centers for Disease Control says that TB is transferred through via air when someone sneezes or coughs but it is preventable. This disease has been plaguing humanity for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years but it doesn’t have to continue. Learn more about this illness and how you can prevent it.
- Only 1/3 of the world’s population carries the TB bacteria, according to the WHO or World Health Organization. In 2012, 8.6 million people became ill with this disease.
- People with a weakened immune system are more likely to die from TB. This is one reason why people with HIV die, their immune systems make it harder to fight this disease.
- TB used to be called the “white plague” or the “wasting illness.” It can be fatal if left untreated.
- The tuberculosis death rate has dropped 45 percent since 1990. This is partly because disease centers have put their focus on raising awareness.
- Every country has reported cases of TB but in 2012, 60 percent of new cases were in Asia.
- Some strains of TB are drug resistant and require expensive treatments.
- Since 1995, 22 million people were saved by programs like DOTS and Stop TB Strategy.
- Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria that most frequently affects the lungs but it can affect other organs too.
- TB symptoms can seem mild even for months but a delay in treatment can lead to death and further infections.
Some myths you may have heard about TB:
- You can get tuberculosis by shaking someone’s hand.
- You shouldn’t share food or drink with someone who has TB.
- You should not share a toilet or use bed linens with someone who has tuberculosis.
Testing for TB is routine and painless. Most doctors use either the skin or blood tests. The skin test requires a return trip to the physician to examine the testing area but this procedure is quick and also painless.
If you have never been tested for tuberculosis or suspect you may this disease, the CDC and WHO encourage you to go now. Doing so can save many lives, including your own.