Find TB, Treat TB. Then We Can End TB

Tuberculosis (TB), a disease that mainly affects the lungs is caused by a bacterium known as the Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is a top infectious killer disease having infected 9.6 million people in 2014 and killed 1.5million. In spite of the reduction in the TB-death rate, it is yet the most common killer in under-developed and developing nations.
The symptoms associated with tuberculosis include weight loss, weakness, chest pain, fever, night sweats, persistent coughing for more than 3 weeks and coughing up sputum mixed with blood. These symptoms may not be observed in people with latent tuberculosis. People with latent tuberculosis are infected with the bacterium but are not ill and cannot transmit the disease. However they may yet become ill with the disease if their immune system gets weakened. It is therefore necessary to get treated to avoid progression to active TB.
The infectious dose of TB is very small with just a single droplet from an infected person being enough to transmit the disease. When a healthy person inhales the air contaminated by the bacteria from the cough or sneeze of an infected person, the bacteria gets lodged in the lungs. If unchecked by the immune system, the bacteria may proliferate and spread. Tuberculosis may affect the kidneys, spine or brain with varying symptoms.
Unlike treating other bacterial infections, the treatment of TB takes more time. Depending on the age, health status, form of TB (latent or active) and location of the infection, it requires the use of antibiotics for at least six months. Incomplete treatment of the disease can result in the bacteria being multidrug resistant. This makes the bacteria more dangerous and difficult to treat. Complications that may arise from untreated tuberculosis include meningitis, spinal pain, joint damage and heart, kidney or liver disorders.
In uniting to end TB, it is necessary to get children vaccinated against the bacteria – Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is given to infants to prevent infection in childhood. Other forms of prevention include staying in well ventilated rooms and limiting contact with infected persons. It is also necessary to boost the immune system by eating healthy foods and treating infections effectively.
By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi
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