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Tuberculosis

World Tuberculosis Day

Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis

Contents

Introduction

The bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the cause of the infectious illness tuberculosis (TB). Although the lungs are the main organ affected, the kidneys, spine, and brain may also be impacted. When an infected individual coughs, sneezes, or speaks, the bacteria-containing droplets are released and spread through the air, causing tuberculosis.

A person may get tuberculosis (TB) if they inhale these droplets. However, not every person infected with the tuberculosis (TB) bacterium experiences illness symptoms. Sometimes the immune system manages to keep the germs in check, which results in latent tuberculosis infection. When a TB infection is latent, the germs stay dormant in the body and don’t produce any symptoms. Although latent tuberculosis infection is not communicable, it can develop into tuberculosis disease if the immune system is compromised, as is the case with HIV infection or other immunocompromising disorders.

When the immune system is unable to keep the bacteria under control, TB disease develops, resulting in an active infection and the emergence of symptoms like exhaustion, fever, coughing, and weight loss. The TB virus is communicable and can travel through the air to infect others.

 

World Tuberculosis Day’s History

Every year on March 24, the world observes World Tuberculosis Day to honor Dr. Robert Koch’s 1882 discovery of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. The study and subsequent control of tuberculosis (TB), which had been a fatal and widespread illness for decades before, were greatly aided by this discovery.

In 1982, on the centennial of Dr. Koch’s discovery, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) initially advocated the concept of observing a day dedicated to TB awareness. The plan sought to increase public knowledge of the global tuberculosis problem and the ongoing efforts to eradicate the illness.

Though it can sometimes affect other bodily parts like the kidneys, spine, and brain, tuberculosis (TB) usually affects the lungs. It is extremely contagious because it spreads via the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. Individuals with compromised immune systems, like those with HIV, diabetes, or malnourishment, are more vulnerable to tuberculosis.

In low- and middle-income nations, where access to healthcare and resources for TB prevention and treatment may be restricted, the effects of TB are very severe. A number of factors, including poverty, congestion, and a lack of knowledge, aid in the disease’s spread in these areas.

Early detection, quick antibiotic treatment, and vaccination with the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine are all part of the fight against tuberculosis (TB). However, obstacles including medication resistance, a lackluster healthcare system, and the stigma associated with the illness persist in impeding the advancement of tuberculosis control.

Finally, World Tuberculosis Day serves as a reminder of tuberculosis’s continuous threat to global health. Even though TB incidence and mortality have decreased, coordinated efforts are still required to completely eradicate the illness as a hazard to public health.

 

The Value of Consciousness

For a number of reasons, eradicating tuberculosis requires increasing public knowledge of the illness. First of all, tuberculosis can be a silent epidemic, with many infected individuals going undiagnosed until they show symptoms. By increasing people’s knowledge of the telltale signs and symptoms of tuberculosis, we can help them seek early medical attention, get diagnosed, and start treatment.

To stop TB from spreading and lessen its effects on public health, early detection and treatment are crucial. A combination of antibiotics can be used to treat tuberculosis (TB), but the course of therapy must be followed to guarantee that the bacteria is totally removed from the body.

Additionally, spreading knowledge about tuberculosis can aid in lessening the stigma attached to the illness. Stigma can make patients less likely to seek medical attention and stick with their treatment plans, which can result in worse outcomes and ongoing disease transmission. We can endeavor to remove the stigma attached to the illness and enhance outcomes for individuals impacted by tuberculosis by teaching communities about the disease, its prevention, and its treatment.

In summary, promoting early detection, lowering stigma, and enhancing treatment outcomes are all made possible by increasing public awareness of tuberculosis. We can lessen the impact of this fatal illness and get closer to its eradication by banding together to spread awareness about tuberculosis.

 

How to handle tuberculosis? What is the treatment for tuberculosis?

Treatment for tuberculosis (TB) involves taking a combination of medicines for six to nine months. Isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide are the most often prescribed antibiotics for the treatment of tuberculosis. Treatment plans can change based on the patient’s unique situation and the type of TB (drug-resistant or drug-susceptible).

You must finish the entire course of treatment as directed by a medical professional, even if your symptoms get better or go away. If the antibiotic course is not finished, the bacteria may develop resistance to the drugs, making treatment more challenging and raising the possibility of spreading to other people.

 

How to avoid the emergence of tuberculosis?

The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine and infection control procedures are two preventive methods against tuberculosis. Although the BCG vaccination is advised in regions where tuberculosis is frequent, particularly for newborns and young children, it is not commonly administered in nations with low tuberculosis prevalence.

Prevention of tuberculosis (TB) in healthcare facilities and the population is the goal of infection control measures. These procedures include using masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), ensuring enough ventilation, and quickly identifying and isolating those who have active tuberculosis.

tuberculosis

What are the obstacles in the control of Tuberculosis?

The following obstacles impede efforts to control tuberculosis:

  1. Drug Resistance: 

Treatment is severely hampered by the rise of drug-resistant TB strains, such as extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) and multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). Treatment for these strains is more complex and costly, necessitating the use of second-line medications, which frequently have more side effects.

  1. Stigma: 

The stigma attached to tuberculosis might keep people from getting treatment and from sticking with it. Poor treatment outcomes and delays in diagnosis and treatment can result from fear of discrimination or social isolation.

  1. Access to Healthcare: 

Attempts to reduce tuberculosis (TB) may be hampered by limited access to healthcare, particularly in low- and middle-income nations. Insufficient infrastructure, resources, and skilled medical personnel may cause inadequate treatment and delayed diagnosis.

  1. Co-infection with HIV:

Due to their compromised immune systems, those who are HIV positive are more likely to get tuberculosis. Diagnoses, treatments, and management of co-infection with HIV and TB are complicated.

A comprehensive strategy is needed to address these issues, one that involves funding the development of novel TB tests, medications, and vaccines as well as increasing treatment adherence, enhancing healthcare access, and battling stigma.

 

What are the Achievements and Advancements in the Battle against Tuberculosis?

Notwithstanding the difficulties, the fight against tuberculosis (TB) has seen notable advancements and victories in recent years. The worldwide decrease in tuberculosis incidence and mortality rates is one of the main accomplishments. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that throughout 2000, the global rate of tuberculosis death has decreased by 42%, while the rate of tuberculosis incidence has been falling at a pace of roughly 2% annually.

Treatment for tuberculosis has also advanced significantly. The treatment of extensively drug-resistant (XDR-TB) and multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB) tuberculosis (TB) has been extended to include newer and more potent medications including delamanid and bedaquiline. For patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis, these medications have improved treatment outcomes and demonstrated encouraging results.

Regarding prevention, initiatives to make the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination more widely available have contributed to a decrease in the prevalence of tuberculosis in children. Furthermore, infection control strategies including better ventilation and PPE use in medical facilities have lessened the transmission of tuberculosis in these environments.

 

What is the part that People and Communities play in spreading awareness about Tuberculosis?

Communities and individuals are vital players in the fight against tuberculosis. The most significant thing that people can do to help is to raise knowledge about tuberculosis (TB) and the prevention and treatment of the disease. This can motivate people to seek treatment as soon as possible and lessen the stigma attached to the illness.

Additionally, communities can help individuals impacted by tuberculosis (TB) by offering practical aid like arranging for transportation to medical facilities or guaranteeing access to wholesome food during treatment, in addition to social and emotional support.

Another significant role that people and communities can play is advocacy. Individuals and communities can contribute to ensuring that tuberculosis (TB) remains a top priority on the global health agenda by campaigning for improved healthcare policy and increased financing for TB programs.

In conclusion, even though the battle against tuberculosis has seen notable victories and advancements, much work remains. Governments, communities, and individuals may all continue to make progress toward permanently putting an end to the tuberculosis epidemic by cooperating.

 

Outlook for Tuberculosis Control in the Future

With ongoing research, novel treatments, and persistent efforts to put an end to the epidemic, the future of tuberculosis (TB) control is bright. The creation of novel TB vaccinations is one field of study that has a lot of potential. Clinical trials are now being conducted on a number of potential vaccinations, some of which are exhibiting promising efficacy and safety outcomes.

The creation of novel medications for the treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis is another field of study. Two of the more recent medications that have been approved for the treatment of extensively drug-resistant (XDR-TB) and multidrug-resistant (MDR-TB) tuberculosis are bedaquiline and delamanid. These medications have demonstrated encouraging outcomes and may help patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis receive better treatment outcomes.

Better TB control efforts are being aided by advances in diagnostics as well as new medications and vaccines. Compared to older procedures that can take weeks to get correct results, rapid molecular testing like GeneXpert has transformed the diagnosis of tuberculosis.

Despite these developments, governments, healthcare professionals, and communities will still need to remain committed to eradicating the TB epidemic. Ensuring that TB programs have sufficient funding and that resources are distributed effectively is crucial in order to provide TB care to everyone who needs it.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Following are the frequently asked questions, that you too may have.

 

What is tuberculosis?

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the main infectious agent that causes tuberculosis, or just TB. Although it can target any area of the body, TB primarily affects the lungs (“pulmonary TB”).

Similar to the common cold, tuberculosis spreads via air. Infectious individuals are just those who have pulmonary tuberculosis. Infectious individuals spread the TB germs, also called bacilli, into the air when they cough, sneeze, talk, spit, laugh, or sing. A healthy individual who is not affected may get the disease if they breathe in air that contains TB bacteria.

Usually, close contact with a person who has tuberculosis for an extended length of time can result in infection. Thus, it is thought that being crowded at home or at work is a major risk factor for developing tuberculosis.

 

What distinguishes TB illness from TB infection?

Even if a person infected with TB bacilli has the TB germ in their body, most people have an immune system protected from getting sick and contracting TB disease. Furthermore, they do not infect others with the illness. Individuals who are infected with the TB bacterium typically have a 5–15% lifetime risk of getting sick with TB.

A person who contracts tuberculosis after contracting an infection is ill and may not survive. They can potentially infect others if they are not adequately treated.

 

Who is susceptible to tuberculosis?

TB can strike anyone. People of various ages, colors, and socioeconomic statuses are affected.

An increased risk of infection is linked to the following factors:

  • In close proximity to those suffering from active tuberculosis
  • HIV infection
  • poverty
  • inadequate nourishment
  • homelessness

An individual’s immune system capacity is the primary factor that determines their likelihood of having an active disease. A number of illnesses, including diabetes, AIDS, and long-term corticosteroid medication, can seriously compromise immunological function, raising the risk of tuberculosis. Furthermore, certain actions (such as drug injection) can weaken the immune system.

 

What are the symptoms of tuberculosis?

One may exhibit any, all, or none of the following signs and symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis:

  • ongoing cough
  • Weight loss
  • fever
  • decline in appetite 
  • fatigue
  • sweats at night
  • breathlessness
  • spitting blood in the cough

General signs of extra-pulmonary tuberculosis include the following:

  • reduction in weight
  • fever
  • sweats during the night.

Other symptoms will depend on the organ or organs affected, and might include for example:

  • swelling of the lymph nodes
  • joint pain and swelling
  • headache, fever, neck stiffness, and drowsiness due to TB meningitis.