2/6/2013 Research Paper
Tuberculosis, also known as “The White Plague” is a very infectious disease. About 1/3 of the world’s population is believed to be infected with tuberculosis (around 2 billion people). Although numbers of tuberculosis cases are decreasing, the disease should still be taken very seriously. Mycobacterium is the pathogen that causes tuberculosis. It most commonly affects the lungs but if left untreated it can infiltrate the skin, bones and joints. Bone and joint mycobacterium infections typically only occur in infants and elderly people. This is due to infants immune systems not being fully developed and the elderly’s being weakened. Undeveloped or weak immune systems can’t contain the spread of the bacteria as well as a healthy one. A healthy immune response to tuberculosis would involve the body creating a wall around the bacteria. Then the body encases the surrounded bacteria in scar tissue to prevent the spread of the disease. These sac-like immune defense structures the body forms are known as tubercles. Since the ideal place for tuberculosis pathogens to thrive are the lungs; tubercles are often found in the lungs. When the disease is in the form of tubercles it can stay dormant in the body from weeks to even years before the host even realizes it. No parts of the body are affected by the bacteria tubercles in this stage of the disease until they’re ruptured. The most common cause of ruptured tubercles is from being infected with another disease while tuberculosis is already present in a person’s body. Even a healthy immune system can become overwhelmed from fighting two diseases. Eventually the tubercle sacks will weaken and rupture from a strong effect of the other disease. For example, someone with tuberculosis catches the common cold virus. While the virus runs its course they experience multiple heavy coughing fits. Continuous exertion for long periods of time on the lungs leads to many tubercle bursting....
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