Following the right medical advice can help stop the spread of TB

TUBERCULOSIS, or TB as it is frequently called, spreads through the air from person to person and mainly attacks the lungs, although it can affect other areas of the body. It is highly infectious.

TUBERCULOSIS, or TB as it is frequently called, spreads through the air from person to person and mainly attacks the lungs, although it can affect other areas of the body. It is highly infectious.

Caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, TB is still one of the world’s deadliest diseases. It can

almost always be cured with antibiotics but, if not treated properly, can be fatal. There has been a worrying increase in drug-resistant TB in recent years.

Sunday (March 24) is World TB Day. This annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when

Dr Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

This year’s theme is the same as last year’s. It is ‘Yes! We can end TB’. It is intended to inspire renewed commitment and action to end TB.

Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. There are two types of TB, namely latent TB, where the TB germs live in your body but do not make you sick. and active TB, where you become sick.

Preventing the spread of infection and the progression from latent infection to active disease is fundamental for winning the fight against TB.


TB is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. When a person with these bacteria in the throat or lungs coughs sneezes, talks or sings infected droplets are propelled into the air, which may be breathed in by others nearby, who then become infected with TB.

You are more likely to catch TB from people you live or work with than from people you just see for short periods of time.

Risk factors

Anyone who is near a person with TB can catch the disease. Those who live in close proximity to someone, who has TB, particularly if they are living in overcrowded accommodation, are most at risk of contracting it.

Healthcare workers and people, who work or live in a place where TB is common are at greater risk of catching TB than those who do not.

There is also a higher risk of suffering from TB if you are exposed to the bacteria and are under five years old or an older adult or have HIV, were not treated correctly for TB in the past, inject yourself with illegal drugs or suffer from alcohol use disorder.

People, who suffer from other diseases, such as diabetes, which make it hard for their body to fight TB bacteria, are also more susceptible to TB.


People with a latent TB infection do not have symptoms. They cannot spread the TB to others.

They could, however, develop active in future, if their immune system becomes weak for other reasons.

If you have latent TB, this could become active TB and make you unwell weeks or even years later.

It is important, therefore, for those, who become aware that they have latent TB to take medicine to prevent their becoming sick with active TB in future.

With active TB, the TB bacteria grow or multiply inside your body.

Thy will eventually make you sick.

If the TB bacteria are growing or spreading in your lungs or throat, you can spread the TB germs to other people.

Your symptoms will depend on where in your body the TB bacteria are active.

Common symptoms may include chills and fever, night sweats or heavy sweating during sleep, loss of weight without trying, loss of appetite, weakness or fatigue.

Symptoms of TB in your lungs may include a cough that lasts longer than three weeks, chest pain and coughing up blood or a thick mucus from the lungs.


Your healthcare provider or clinic can test you to find out if you have TB germs in your body.

They may give you either a skin or blood test.

If your test shows that you have TB, you will need to have other tests to check whether the bacteria are actively growing.

Tests for TB in the lungs usually include testing samples of your sputum and having chest Xrays.

Tests for TB in other parts of your body may include tests of urine and tissue samples.

You may need a TB test if you have symptoms of TB disease or if you are at high risk because you live with someone with TB disease.


The treatment for both latent and active TB is antibiotics. It is important to follow the directions for taking your medicine to make sure you get rid of all the TB bacteria in your body.

If you do not follow the directions, the TB germs in your body could change and become antibiotic resistant.

This means the medicine may stop working and your TB may become hard to cure.

If you have a latent TB infection, your doctor or healthcare provider may prescribe medicines that should be taken for three to nine months. This treatment helps ensure you do not develop active TB.

Active TB patients usually need to take medicines for six months to a year.

Treatment will almost always cure you if you take your medication correctly.

If you have TB in your lungs or throat, you will need to stay home for a few weeks so you do not spread the disease to other people.

You can protect the people you live with by covering your nose and mouth, opening windows when possible and making sure you do not go too close to them.

If you follow medical advice for TB testing and treatment, you can normally recover from the disease and help stop the spread of tuberculosis.

  • The information in this article is provided as a public service by the Cimas iGo Wellness programme, which is designed to promote good health. It is provided for general information only and should not be construed as medical advice. Readers should consult their doctor or clinic on any matter related to their health or the treatment of any health problem. — [email protected] or WhatsApp 0772 161 829 or phone 024-2773 0663.

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