World TB Day – Who Cares?
Tuberculosis – A highly contagious infection caused by the bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Abbreviated TB. Tubercles (tiny lumps) are a characteristic finding in TB. Diagnosis may be made by skin test, which if positive should will be followed by a chest X-ray to determine the status (active or dormant) of the infection. Tuberculosis is more common in people with immune system problems, such as AIDS, than in the general population. Treatment of active tuberculosis is mandatory by law in the US, and should be available at no cost to the patient through the public health system. It involves a course of antibiotics and vitamins that lasts about six months. – MedicineNet.com
Who cares, right?
We’re focused on asthma over here, and – by extension – allergies, colds, and influenza. But not tuberculosis. It’s 2009, and that’s a nineteenth century disease, killer of Ellizabeth Barrett Browning and John Keats.
TB has been around pretty much forever, and it persists today. Since March 24 is World TB Day, some facts and statistics for you:
— While new TB cases haven’t increased, a new WHO report finds 1 in 4 TB deaths occur in HIV-infected patients. This is twice as many as researchers thought.
— Hard-hit South Africa has reported 7,300 cases of multi-drug resistant TB and 500 cases of extremely drug resistant TB.
— One-third of the world’s population is infected with TB, although not everyone who contracts the TB bacteria gets sick.
— Infected people get sick if the bacteria overwhelm their immune systems. So a weakened immune system = higher risk of TB, if exposed. People with weakened immune systems can include babies & young children, HIV patients, substance abusers, diabetes sufferers, and patients on medical treatments like corticosteroids or immunosuppressants for organ transplants.
— Close to home, California TB cases declined in 2008 but rose slightly in Pasadena and Long Beach.
— The American Lung Association was founded in 1904 to fight tuberculosis. While the group’s scope has obviously broadened, the ALA logo still reflects this history. The double-barred cross is based on the Cross of Lorraine carried during the Crusades and represents the “crusade” against TB.
Who cares about tuberculosis?
Edited 3/26/09 to add: Go check out Kerri’s TB Post for even more information.