Almost every person in the world has heard about tuberculosis. Those who have not, need to know that it is a bacterial infection and that it is usually spread from one person to another when tiny droplets of saliva from the infected person are inhaled by a healthy one. It is usually the lungs which are infected with tuberculosis but the disease can spread to other body parts as well. Even the bones and the nervous system might get infected.
Most common symptoms of this disease are a persistent cough, weight loss and night sweats.
Tuberculosis does not develop very fast, it takes some time. In some cases, people had it and were not aware of the symptoms for several years.
What happens when a person gets infected?
There are three possible scenarios which may occur. In the first one, the immune system will destroy the bacteria and a person will have no more symptoms. This happens in most cases.
In the second case, the immune system cannot destroy the bacteria but is able to build a defensive barrier around it and the person will have no symptoms but the bacteria will still be present in the body.
The third option is that the immune system cannot kill the bacteria and it spreads to the lungs. This case is known as active tuberculosis.
People need to know that this disease needs to be cured because it is fatal. In most cases, tuberculosis is easily treated with proper treatment. In extremely rare cases, tuberculosis can be fatal even with the treatment.
Vaccination is a very important part of this disease because a person can be protected if he or she receives the right vaccine. Around 80% of all people who receive this vaccine will not be infected with tuberculosis.
Preventing the spread of infection
A person diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis needs to know that he or she will be contagious for a couple of weeks until proper treatment is received.
There is no need for isolation but certain precaution measures needs to be taken.
For instance, a person should always cover the mouth when coughing and sneezing. Windows should be open as often as possible. Sleeping in the same room with someone else should be avoided as well.
Most people will be protected with the proper vaccine. However, people over 35 years of age cannot receive it. Before the vaccination, a person will be tested in order to be determined whether a person has latent tuberculosis.
These vaccinations are recommended for babies older than one year of age and who are born in areas with high rates of tuberculosis.
Children under the age of 16 should also be vaccinated.