Did you know?

  • every 23 minutes a person dies from TB
  • annually 3 million people die from TB
  • evidence of TB has been found in the skeletal remains of Egyptian mummies, (340013C)
  • 48 hours after starting the treatment the person is no longer infectious
  • if TB is left untreated the person will die within two years
  • BCG vaccine does not prevent TB, but only the complications of TB

What is TB?

  • An infectious disease
  • Caused by the germ Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Most common form is pulmonary TB
  • TB germs are found in sputum of affected persons
  • If untreated will cause death

When am I at risk?

  • Living in overcrowding
  • unhygienic conditions
  • badly ventilated rooms with little or no sun
  • poor nutrition
  • excessive alcohol intake
  • stress
  • diseases like diabetes or AIDS
  • smoking

Particularly high risk groups:

  • babies
  • children
  • teenagers
  • elderly males & females

How will I get TB?

Germs are transferred to healthy people by:

  • droplets- coughing, sneezing, spitting
  • dust - dust can be contaminated bythe spit of an infectious person
  • cowsmilk - less common, but beware of unpasteurized milk.

Who gets TB?

All races, all ages

How will I know if I have TB?

NB: get help if two or more of the following signs and symptoms are present:

  • constant cough that does not improve
  • coughing up blood
  • pain in the chest
  • tiredness and weakness
  • loss of weight
  • loss of appetite
  • night sweats, even when cold
  • breathlessness
  • hoarse voice

How is TB treated

Once the disease is diagnosed by X-ray and sputum tests, the patient will receive treatment. This consists of two phases:

  • Intensive phase:
    This phase is the first two months of the patient's treatment, during which the bacteria in the sputum is killed.The following are some of the drugs presently used: Ethambutol, Rifadin, INH, PZA.Dosage will depend on the patient's weight.
  • Phase two:
    During this phase all surviving bacteria in the body are slowly removed to prevent relapse. The dosage and number of tablets are decreased to improve compliance, but the treatment still is effective to cure the patient.

During this phase patients feel well but are not well yet!

To ensure compliance a new global approach to treatment has been introduced namely:

D.O.T.S. Directly Observed Treatment Short course.

This involves the patient taking his/her treatment while being directly supervised by any responsible person.

This will minimize the loss of man-hours, as patients can be supervised in their work place. The occurrence of multidrug resistance will decrease as patients will complete their course of treatment.

Am I a contact?

Everybody is always concerned that they can be infected when they have been in contact with a person suffering from tuberculosis.

To be classified as a contact you need to comply with one or more of the following rules:

  • a contact is a person living in the same room or house, or
  • sleeping daily within five metres of a person, or
  • working daily in the same room (for eight hours) with a person suffering from tuberculosis.

Prevention is best

It is always better to prevent a disease than to cure it.

How can we be sure that this deadly disease is not spread?

  • have your children immunized with the BCG vaccine
  • eat nourishing foods eg. milk, brown bread, eggs, meat, fish, fruit, vegetables etc
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing
  • encourage everyone not to spit carelessly
  • if your are a contact you need to be followed up at any clinic
  • the following group of people need to be aware that they are at higher risk at all times, and need to take the above precautions and maintain a healthy lifestyle:
    • diabetics, smokers, heavy drinkers
    • HIV\Aids patients
    • hepatitis B sufferers
    • cancer\chemo\radiotherapy patients
    • poor\malnourished patients

In conclusion

  • Do not fear TB
  • Know the symptoms
  • Report any symptoms
  • Persuade others with symptoms to get help
  • Ensure regular taking of treatment.