Tuberculosis — or TB, as it’s commonly called — is a contagious infection that usually attacks the lungs. It can also spread to other parts of the body, like the brain and spine. A type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes it.
Here are some key points about tuberculosis.
- According to the World Health Organization 9 million people get infected with TB every year
- Almost 3 million among these do not get treatment.
- TB is among the top 3 causes of death for women aged 15 to 44
- Tuberculosis is an airborne pathogen which means TB spread through air.
- Although the symptoms of TB might be mild for the first few months, the infected person can transmit it to more than 15 people through close contact over the course of 1 year.
- A TB infection doesn’t always mean you will get sick. There are two types of Tuberculosis:
- Latent Tuberculosis – Your body does contain the germs that cause TB, however your immune system fights them off and prevents them for spreading. A person with Latent TB does not have any symptoms and is not contagious. But the infection is still very much alive but poses risks only to those who are immunocompromised.
- Active Tuberculosis – Here, your immune system isn’t able to fight off the germs and they multiply and make you sick. You have all of the below-mention symptoms of TB and you can spread the disease to others.
- Many strains of tuberculosis resist the drugs most used to treat the disease. People with active tuberculosis must take several types of medications for many months to eradicate the infection and prevent development of antibiotic resistance.
Signs and symptoms of active TB include:
- Coughing that lasts three or more weeks
- Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
- Coughing up blood
- Unintentional weight loss
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite