Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious infection of the respiratory tract which, if left untreated, can be debilitating and even fatal. It is a myth that Tuberculosis is a thing of the past, confined to isolation wards and fresh air sanitariums. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says millions of cases are diagnosed worldwide each year. Other cases of TB go undetected. Here are 5 facts you should know about this public health threat.
There are many debilitating symptoms.
-a really bad , and sometimes bloody, cough for more than 3 weeks
-chills and fever
-loss of appetite and weight
According to the American Lung Association , the bacteria could also affect other parts of the body such as the spine and kidneys.
Anyone can contract TB, but those who have weak immune systems are especially at risk.
The TB bacterium, mycobacterium tuberculosis, is spread only by respiratory droplets, i.e. a cough or sneeze from an infected individual. The disease is not passed any other way such as contact with a surface an infected person has touched. But individuals with the following conditions are more susceptible to TB:
-Alcohol or drug addiction
-previous TB infection
In addition, the homeless and prison populations are at risk. The CDC maintains that more than 84% of TB in the U.S. is found in racial and ethnic minorities.
Diagnosis is simple.
Doctors use a blood or skin test to look for TB. If positive, they will order a chest x-ray and sputum (mucous) culture for final confirmation. These tests confirm active infections, where the patient is highly symptomatic, and inactive infections, where the person shows no visible illness but is at risk for a later active infection.
Treatment is Drug Therapy.
Inactive: INH (Isoniazid) for 6 to 9 months.
Active: INH plus Rifampim, Pyrazinamide or Ethambutol.
The regimen must be completed for TB to be cured.
Research is important.
The CDC is actively partnering with other health agencies in the U.S. and across the world to combat Tuberculosis. It is estimated that a full 1/3 of the world’s population has some form of TB.