What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs, but it can also spread to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes, bones, brain, and kidneys.

TB is a global health problem, with an estimated 10 million new cases and 1.4 million deaths in 2018. The disease is most prevalent in developing countries, particularly in Southeast Asia and Africa.

The bacterium that causes TB is spread from person to person through the air. When an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes, tiny droplets containing the bacterium are expelled into the air and can be inhaled by others.

Symptoms of TB may include a persistent cough that lasts for more than three weeks, chest pain, coughing up blood or mucus, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and night sweats.

Diagnosis of TB is typically made through a combination of symptoms, a physical exam, chest X-rays, and a tuberculosis skin test or a blood test.

Treatment of TB typically involves a combination of antibiotics taken for several months. This is known as combination therapy and is necessary to ensure that the bacterium is completely eradicated and to prevent the development of drug-resistant strains of the bacterium.

Preventative measures for TB include getting vaccinated with the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, practicing good hygiene (such as covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze), and avoiding close contact with people who have active TB.

It is important to emphasize that TB is a treatable and curable disease, and early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve outcomes. Effective control and elimination of TB requires a comprehensive approach that includes early diagnosis and treatment, as well as measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

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