In an age with limitless advancements in research and science and despite tremendous progress, made in mitigating the disease, tuberculosis still claims more lives than any other pandemic. TB is currently both preventable and curable yet still it remains one of the leading causes of death. According to Dr. Shannon Harder of the Centre for Disease Control, an astonishing 2 billion people – that’s one third of the world’s population – are infected with TB with nearly 10 million active cases occurring each year. At least a third of active cases go undiagnosed every year, which means millions of individuals continue to transmit the infection, become ill, risk disease progression and even death. “In fact, TB claims 1.5 million lives every year,” She adds.
TB can occur in either one of two instances:
LatentTB– this is a situation where one becomes a passive carrier. The disease-causing organisms (mycobacterium tuberculosis) are present in your blood but your immune system has been able to prevent it from spreading. This also means that the carrier shows no symptoms and cannot spread it to the next person. However, if the carrier falls under the high-risk groups as follows:
• HIV positive
• Users of injectable illegal drugs
• The elderly and previous TB patients
who received incorrect treatment, chances are that it will morph into its next stage of life, ActiveTB.
ActiveTB– the mycobacterium are now able to spread through the carrier’s blood stream. This means that you can spread it out to the next person, and may show the following symptoms;
• Prolonged dry cough with chest pain
• Coughing out blood
• Lack of appetite
It is highly recommended that one seeks help from a medical professional immediately the symptoms start to manifest.
How do we prevent Tuberculosis?
There are several measures that can be put in place to reduce the spread of the illness.
The vaccine against TB is commonly known as BCG. The vaccine is prepared from a sample of the watered-down tuberculosis causing bacteria- Mycobacterium bovis and has been in use since 1921. It is also the most effective in combating TB among children.
2. Early diagnosis
A person with ActiveTB can infect up to 15 other people annually. Once diagnosed, after two weeks of using the prescribed medication, the bacteria no longer become infectious hence why Immediate treatment is the most efficient way in preventing victims from contaminating other people with the bacteria.
3. Tracking the infected
Mitigating the spread of Tuberculosis depends on successfully tracing and treating people with the illness, to prevent them from making the infection communicable. This can be done through Tuberculosis campaigns to raise awareness, so people with TB symptoms know to seek help. Social workers and volunteers also working within societies and locations with a high number of Tuberculosis cases to find people with symptoms and refer them for testing. Just like with the recent CODIV-19 pandemic, whenever someone is diagnosed with ActiveTB, their contacts are screened for the illness.
4. Proper hygiene and sanitation
Tuberculosis is easily spread through the air whenever a patient coughs or sneezes, making it highly communicable. The risk of infection can be reduced by using a few simple precautions:
• Hand washing– Using soap and water while rubbing your hands together ensures that the soap gets into the small wrinkles in your palms. Rinsing well with clean running water then washes away the remnants of the bacteria together with the dirt and other foreign objects. Read more about proper handwashing in our subsequent blog at BONGODAWA tips on effective hand washing
Alternatively, you can ensure that you frequently sanitize your hands especially after physical contact with people or objects that could be contaminated. Check out affordable sanitary products at BONGODAWA sanitizers
• sufficient ventilation– ensure closed rooms are properly ventilated, ensuring consistent circulation of clean air.
• natural lighting– the light from the sun’s rays instantly kill Tuberculosis causing bacteria.
• personal hygiene– ensuring not to cough or sneeze in the air. Use a disposable toilet paper and dump immediately after use. If need be, avoid coughing into your palm. Instead cough onto the back of your elbow facing downwards. Face masks are also a good option.
5. A healthy immune system
Stay consistent in maintaining a healthy diet. In case of vitamin deficiencies, you can always check out the most suitable supplements for you at MYDAWA