World Tuberculosis Day – Things You Need To Know

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Today is World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. Every year 24th March is observed as World TB Day. This day is celebrated to build public awareness and eradicate this disease. It was on this date in 1882 that Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacteria Mycobacterium Tuberculosis that causes tuberculosis, which opened the door to diagnosing and curing this deadly infectious disease.  The theme of World TB Day 2022 is “Invest To End TB, Save Lives”. As per a report stated by WHO, 15,00,000 people died of TB in 2020. As a result of COVID-19, years of progress made to end TB have been reversed. The number of TB deaths increased in 2020 for the first time in more than a decade.

Let’s have a look at the causes and symptoms of TB.

Causes

TB is a contagious infection that usually affects lungs but can also spread to other parts of the body such as brain and spine. It is an air borne disease. When a person inhales air particles, droplet nuclei, containing Mycobacterium Tubeculosis, it infects the person. It is curable but the medications need to be taken for a long period of time, usually 6 to 9 months.

There are 2 types of TB-

  • Latent TB – The person neither shows any symptoms nor is he contagious. But there are chances that the bacteria will become active.
  • Active TB – The person is contagious and can spread the disease by coughing or sneezing.

Symptoms

  • Cough that persists more than 3 weeks
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Blood in the cough
  • Night sweat
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

Prevention

  • Proper ventilation – Since TB is an air-borne disease, poor ventilation elevates the disease.
  • UV Light – UV light can kill TB bacteria
  • Hygiene – Covering mouth and nose is important while coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of TB
  • Vaccination – BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) is the only vaccine against TB and has been in use since  1921. A strain of weakened bovine tuberculosis bacillus, Mycobacterium bovis, is used in this vaccine. It is administered only to infants and is not given once the infant becomes 12 months of age.

Organisations

Many organisations such as World Health Organisation (WHO), National Tuberculosis Controllers Association (NTCA), TB Elimination Alliance, Stop TB Partnership, Atlanta Tuberculosis Prevention Coalition (ATPC) are working to build public consciousness and eliminate this disease. By joining hands with local administration bodies, they arrange for public training and campaigns.

U.S National Institutes of Health, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, UK Medical Research Council are some of the major organisations that provide funds for TB research and development.

Now when you are well aware of the causes and symptoms of TB, let us go through some statistics.

Statistics

  • According to some reports, as of 2019, it was estimated that TB was responsible for around 1.2 million deaths a year worldwide, with most TB cases and deaths occurring in developing countries, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • India has the highest number of deaths from TB worldwide, with around 436,000 deaths from the disease reported in 2019. The three countries with the highest death rates from TB in 2019 were all found in Africa.
  • Cases of TB in developed countries have decreased steadily over the past few decades, dropping to a rate of 2.76 per 100,000 populations in 2018.
  • The report also states that there has been a success rate in treatment for all new and relapse TB cases in WHO world regions. In 2018, Africa reported a treatment success rate for new and relapse cases of about 82 percent.