Is Tuberculosis A Dangerous Disease?

World TB Day is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.

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Is Tuberculosis A Dangerous Disease?

Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.

World TB Day is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch's announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch's discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB. The theme of World TB Day 2017 is "Unite to End TB."

Key facts
 
  • Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
  • In 2015, 10.4 million people fell ill with TB and 1.8 million died from the disease (including 0.4 million among people with HIV). Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Six countries account for 60% of the total, with India leading the count, followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
  • In 2015, an estimated 1 million children became ill with TB and 170 000 children died of TB (excluding children with HIV).
  • TB is a leading killer of HIV-positive people: in 2015, 35% of HIV deaths were due to TB.
  • Globally in 2015, an estimated 480 000 people developed multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).
  • TB incidence has fallen by an average of 1.5% per year since 2000. This needs to accelerate to a 4–5% annual decline to reach the 2020 milestones of the "End TB Strategy".
  • An estimated 49 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2015.
  • Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals.

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable. TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected. About one-third of the world's population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.

When a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms such as cough, fever, night sweats, or weight loss may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care, and results in transmission of the bacteria to others. People with active TB can infect 10–15 other people through close contact over the course of a year.

Who is at risk of getting TB?
 
  • Tuberculosis mostly affects adults in their most productive years. However, all age groups are at risk. Over 95% of cases and deaths are in developing countries.
  • People who are infected with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop active TB (see TB and HIV section below). The risk of active TB is also greater in persons suffering from other conditions that impair the immune system.
  • Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of TB disease and death. More than 20% of TB cases worldwide are attributable to smoking.

Impact of TB

TB occurs in every part of the world. In 2015, the largest number of new TB cases occurred in Asia, with 61% of new cases, followed by Africa, with 26% of new cases.

In 2015, 87% of new TB cases occurred in the 30 high TB burden countries. Six countries accounted for 60% of the new TB cases: India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa. Global progress depends on advances in TB prevention and care in these countries.

Treatment

TB is a treatable and curable disease. Active, drug-susceptible TB disease is treated with a standard 6 month course of 4 antimicrobial drugs that are provided with information, supervision and support to the patient by a health worker or trained volunteer. Without such support, treatment adherence can be difficult and the disease can spread. The vast majority of TB cases can be cured when medicines are provided and taken properly. Between 2000 and 2015, an estimated 49 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment.

(Source: World Health Organization)

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.

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