Top 12 shocking things to know about tuberculosis, the common disease
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Top 12 shocking things to know about tuberculosis, the common disease

We are in 2022 and after the global spread of the Corona virus pandemic, we are quickly forgetting some other diseases or different viruses that are spreading all over the world. Lately, it’s been the tuberculosis epidemic that’s back in the news and we don’t necessarily tend to know all about this already devastating disease in the past (and still is today).

2. It is caused by bacteria

The bacteria known as Koch’s bacillus (or Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but less beautiful) is responsible for tuberculosis. This little bitch of Koch’s bacillus can actually spread to and affect many organs over the years, but usually tuberculosis mainly affects the lungs. A person with the disease can live without breaking out, as the immune system can fight the bacteria for several years.

3. It is the infectious diseases that cause the largest number of deaths each year

One might think that the infectious disease that causes the largest number of victims in a year is AIDS, yet tuberculosis is already the deadliest on a global scale. There were nearly 2 million deaths in 2000 and 1.5 million in 2015 to give you an idea of ​​the scale of the death toll. At the same time, the number of people infected with bacteria sometimes reaches 10 million per year.

4. It goes through two phases: latent and active

As we said a little above, the disease can remain in a latent stage: that is, an infected person does not get tuberculosis even if he lives with the bacteria. But in many cases it goes into the active phase because the immune system is not able to contain it (sometimes depending on several factors such as a person’s health) and the first symptoms appear and vary depending on the affected area.

5. The symptoms of the pulmonary form are very scary

When the disease develops in the lungs, many symptoms can appear: violent or recurrent cough, weight loss, back pain, you can spit and cough up blood, fever … The disease is contagious, and therefore can be transmitted and this is where tuberculosis is dangerous in terms of its transmission : The bacteria are brought down by patients’ frequent coughs and sneezes, and are therefore relatively easily detected.

6. There are many forms of extrapulmonary disease

Koch’s bacillus can affect the lungs as well as other organs, as we said at the beginning of the article. Depending on the part of the body where the bacteria will attack, different symptoms can appear. If the brain is affected, you can have memory problems or loss of consciousness, if the ganglia are affected, they can swell and become painful and in some cases you can also see bone deformities that generally affect the spine.

7. In France, it is a “notifiable” disease.

This simply means that once diagnosed, it must be reported to health authorities so that the diagnosis can be made very quickly on the people the patient has met. The idea is to quickly contain any form of infection and prevent it from spreading. Several types of screening tests exist, and if someone is diagnosed with the underlying form, it can be treated quickly.

8. Processing takes a long time

A TB patient can follow a course of antibiotics that generally lasts six months but does not always require hospitalization (at least not for the entire course of treatment). Antibiotics will vary and it is necessary to continue treatment until the end to prevent bacteria from developing resistance after early discontinuation and to resume treatment after interruption. You have to do what the doctors say, like the rest of the time.

9. It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s population carries bacteria

The estimate is huge, yet it appears to fluctuate between a quarter and a third of the population depending on the year and polls. These numbers are mainly explained by the fact that bacteria spread very quickly in about thirty countries, which are, unsurprisingly, countries that are underdeveloped or have insufficient health infrastructure to stop pollution.

10. Two-thirds of global disease cases are found in eight countries

Approximately two-thirds of the world’s tuberculosis cases are found in eight major affected countries: Nigeria, China, the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Africa, Bangladesh and India, which are the most frequently infected in the world. In general, countries where bad things often happen, including some less fortunate ones.

11. This disease is curable but still causes many deaths

If we can see a decrease in the death rate in the early 2000s, the disease continues to spread and kill a large number of people. In the most affected countries, there are many factors that can explain this: lack of medical care or infrastructure, malnutrition, war or famine (the number of cases is increasing in affected countries), instability, extreme poverty and promiscuity; In short, nothing helps countries that do not have the means to confront the epidemic.

12- An estimated 66 million lives were saved between 2000 and 2020

Since the advent of a more accurate screening method, it is estimated that approximately 66 million lives have been saved in twenty years. Care also developed but was widespread in the worst-affected countries. In general, there is still work when you see the number of deaths per year, but it is already a good step forward.


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