What is Tuberculosis, and how serious is this problem?
TB, or Tuberculosis, is a chronic or acute contagious disease caused by a bacterial infection. TB is the leading cause of death from a single infectious disease, accounting for over a quarter of avoidable deaths among adults. It can affect several organs of the human body, including the brain, the kidneys and the bones, but it predominately manifests itself in the lungs where it is called "Pulmonary Tuberculosis". According to the WHO, TB infection is currently spreading at the rate of one person per second. It kills more young people and adults than any other infectious disease and is the world's biggest killer of women. Researchers have calculated that 8-10 million people catch the disease every year, with three million dying from it. It causes more deaths worldwide than AIDS and Malaria combined. The WHO predicts that by 2020 nearly one billion people will be newly infected with TB, of them 70m will die. TB black spots include Eastern Europe with 250,000 cases a year, South East Asia; three million cases a year and sub-Saharan Africa with two million cases a year. Tuberculosis, a sometimes crippling and deadly disease, is on the rise and is revisiting both the developed and developing world. The global epidemic is growing and becoming more dangerous. The breakdown in health services, the spread of HIV/AIDS and the emergence of multi drug-resistant TB are contributing to the worsening impact of this disease. Overall, one-third of the world's population is currently infected with the TB bacillus.
How TB Spreads:
TB is a contagious disease. Like the common cold, it spreads through the air. A person acquires a tuberculosis infection by inhaling tiny droplets of moisture contaminated with the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis bacteria. The source of these droplets is frequently from infectious individuals who expel thousands of water droplets into the air every time they cough, sneeze, talk or spit. A person needs only to inhale a small number of these to be infected. The most common places for becoming infected with TB are right in your own home, or your workplace. Often the source of the infection is unknown since the initial infection may have occurred several years ago. Left untreated, each person with active TB will infect on average between 10 and 15 people every year and these people are mostly likely to be family members, friends, coworkers, and those who share the same breathing space. However, TB infections are not readily acquired under most circumstance and usually do not occur vial casual contact on the street or bus. Only about 5 - 10 percent of people who are infected with TB become sick or infectious at some time during their life.
What are the Chances of Becoming Infected?
The process of catching Tuberculosis involves two stages: first, a person has to become infected; second, the infection has to progress to disease. To become infected, a person has to come in close contact with another person having active Tuberculosis disease (in the lungs and throat only, since TB in other body parts are not infectious), with TB germs present in the sputum. However, the likelihood of this happening also depends on the time spent in close contact with the person with active disease. It has been proven that a person who is taking their TB pills cannot pass on Tuberculosis. The process of infection progresses to disease in about 10% of those infected, and it can happen anytime during the remainder of their lives. Although the chance of progression to disease diminishes with the passage of time, TB can develop more easily if the immune system weakens. Babies, young children and the elderly often have weak immune systems. Others who are immune-compromised, and thus more susceptible include those with: ·
Cancer of the head or neck,
Leukemia or Hodgkin's disease,
Severe kidney disease,...
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