Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease caused by bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB is an ancient disease that can cause serious health problems and TB is not very easy to get. Furthermore, this infectious disease can be cured by antibiotics. There are estimated to be about six million new cases of TB each year and about 1.5 million people will die from disease every year.
- Coughing: the patient may cough up blood
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Fever and extreme fatigue
- Night sweats
- Chest pain
How TB occurs?
- Normally, when bacteria invade the body then it is engulfed by macrophage, a white blood cell (WBC) which kills the bacteria. However, TB can survive inside the macrophage.
- The bacteria are taken up by phagocytosis, but it resists the killing mechanism therefore, it survives in the WBC.
- As bacteria have very thick waxy cell wall, making them extremely hard to be broken down by phagocytosis. However, bacteria lie dormant for years unless the immune system is very weak.
- Active TB bacteria not just stay alive inside the macrophage but instead start to target the cells of immune system. This reduces antibody production and attack by the T killer cells that destroy bacteria.
How TB is diagnosed?
To confirm that a person has TB, a sample of sputum coughed up by the patient is taken and then cultured to visualise the type of bacteria is present. Through the use of staining technique, different bacteria’s can be identified such as positive stain and negative stain. As TB develops in the lungs, chest X-rays can be taken that can show the extend of infection in the lungs.
- If a person’s relative or close one is with TB then they are likely to get the infection.
- A person that has immigrated with severe TB, it is likely to spread around the country rapidly.
- Infectious TB bacteria cells can spread quickly from homeless persons, drug users as well as person with HIV.
- Person with weaker immune system due to other health problems are likely to transmit TB:
- HIV infectious people get TB more often.
- Transplant of organ
- Being underweight
- Cancer in the neck and head.
- Other medical conditions such as corticosteroids.
Treatment of TB
Usually, TB is treated by giving as combination of two antibiotics for at least six-months that includes:
- For the first two month an additional antibiotics combination of pyrazinamide and ethambutol is given.
- There are two antibiotics such as isoniazid and rifampicin that are given for six months.