Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that can spread through the lymph nodes and bloodstream to any organ in your body. But, it is most common in the lungs. If the bacteria becomes active, they will cause death of the tissue in the organs they infect. It can be deadly if not treated.
Tuberculosis was first discovered by Dr. Robert Koch in 1882. at the time, TB killed 1 in 7 people in the United States. He made everyone aware of the disease and taught about how to prevent it and tried to find a cure. His discovery greatly contributed to the elimination of the disease.
A person with active TB disease may have any, all or none of the following symptoms: a persistent cough, weight loss, loss of appetite, coughing up blood, or night sweats. You don't always have symptoms when the bacteria is in your body. The immune system is normally able to keep it inactive and unable to spread. If the immune system fails, the bacteria becomes active and can spread rapidly.
Treatments and Tests
Tuberculosis is detected through a skin test called the mantoux test. A tiny amount of tuberculin substance, is injected into the skin of an arm. A few days later a health professional will check to see if a bump has formed at the site of the injection. If the bump is a certain size, the patient most likely carries TB.
Tuberculosis is spread through the air, not direct contact. When a person with active tuberculosis coughs, sneezes, or talks close to someone, they can spread the disease. It takes multiple encounters with a carrier in order to get the disease. The best thing to do is stay away from people who might carry the disease, and if you have the disease, seek medical treatment and stay at home. It can take months of antibiotics and medications to be clear of the infection.
Tuberculosis is a serious infectious disease that mainly infects the lungs. If you get medical help quickly, you can be treated and get better. It is very contagious if you carry the disease and it is active. It is important to be checked for TB occasionally to make sure you do not carry it and to stay away from from people with symptoms.