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Fight Tuberculosis: Get Yourself Checked

  By posted Mar 25th 2013
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 Fight Tuberculosis: Get Yourself Checked


Tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem in India. India accounts for one-fifth of the global TB incidents. Each year nearly 2 million people in India contract TB, of which around 0.87 million are infectious. It is estimated that annually around 330,000 Indians die due to TB. For someone with a healthy immune system, there's only a 10% lifetime chance of the TB bacteria reactivating and causing the active symptoms of TB. If the immune system has been weakened because of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) or other illnesses, the risk of moving from an inactive infection to an active symptomatic disease increases to 10% per year.

 

Symptoms

There are no symptoms associated with inactive TB. This means that someone may have acquired the TB bacteria and yet show no signs or symptoms of infection. If the immune system has been weakened because of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) or other illnesses, the risk of moving from an inactive infection to an active symptomatic disease increases to 10% per year. Symptoms only appear when the TB infection becomes active. Symptoms develop gradually, and it may take many weeks before you notice that something's wrong and see your doctor. Although the TB bacteria can infect any organ (e.g., kidney, lymph nodes, bones, joints) in the body, the disease commonly occurs in the lungs, along with other co-morbidities like infertility.

 

Common symptoms include: coughing that lasts longer than 2 weeks with green, yellow, or bloody sputum, weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats, chills, chest pain, shortness of breath, loss of appetite.

 

Lack of diagnostic capacity has been a crucial barrier preventing an effective response to the challenges of HIV-associated and drug resistant tuberculosis (TB), with only 7% of the estimated global burden of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and an even smaller fraction of XDR-TB cases being detected, the result of critical gaps in laboratory capacity for culture and drug susceptibility testing (DST). Therefore, the expanded capacity to diagnose TB and MDR-TB is a global priority for TB control.

 

The diagnosis of TB involves skin tests, chest X-rays, sputum analysis (smear and culture), and PCR tests to detect the genetic material of the causative bacteria.

 

Reference - http://www.who.int/tb/laboratory/en/

 

Data Credit: The author is Dr. Shamma Shetye, HOD - Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd.

 

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