Tuberculosis is nothing but a potentially serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs. It is contagious disease that can also spread to other parts of the body, like the brain and spine. A type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes it.
But no worries! Tuberculosis is curable and preventable
TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected. About one-third of the world's population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.
When a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms such as cough, fever, night sweats, or weight loss may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care, and results in transmission of the bacteria to others. People with active TB can infect 10–15 other people through close contact over the course of a year.
Who are at risk of getting affected?
-Tuberculosis mostly affects adults in their most productive years. However, all age groups are at risk. Over 95% of cases and deaths are in developing countries.
-People who are infected with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop active TB (see TB and HIV section below). The risk of active TB is also greater in persons suffering from other conditions that impair the immune system.
-Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of TB disease and death. More than 20% of TB cases worldwide are attributable to smoking.
Impact of TB
TB occurs in every part of the world. In 2015, the largest number of new TB cases occurred in Asia, with 61% of new cases, followed by Africa, with 26% of new cases.
In 2015, 87% of new TB cases occurred in the 30 high TB burden countries. Six countries accounted for 60% of the new TB cases: India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa. Global progress depends on advances in TB prevention and care in these countries.
TB is a treatable and curable disease. Active, drug-susceptible TB disease is treated with a standard 6 month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer. Without such support, treatment adherence can be difficult and the disease can spread. The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines are provided and taken properly. Between 2000 and 2015, an estimated 49 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment.