Tuberculosis: Lethal Killer Of Mankind!

Tuberculosis | Lethal Killer Of Mankind | 21st November 2022 | Virtual Wire

 

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Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection which occurs in humans and animals. In humans, the causative agent is Mycobacterium tuberculosis and in animals, it is caused by -Mycobacterium Bovis.

In animals like cows, buffalo, deer, bison, etc TB is still very much present. But today we are here to discuss TB in humans. Tuberculosis was also known as “Phthisis” in ancient Greece, “Tabes” in ancient Rome and “Schachepheth” in ancient Hebrew. In many parts of the world during the 1700s, TB was also called “The White Plague” due to the paleness as a common symptom in patients. Tuberculosis of the neck and lymph nodes was referred to as “Scrofula” in olden times. Now, in the modern system of medicine TB is either pulmonary or extrapulmonary. BCG Vaccine is administered to prevent infection against mycobacterium, although it's not 100% effective in the prevention of TB.


Common Symptoms Of Tuberculosis (TB)

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Although the symptoms of TB are dependent on the organ involved, as we all know that pulmonary tuberculosis is the most common one. So, the most common symptoms of lung-infected TB are as follows :

  • Cough persistent for more than 3 weeks.

  • Pain in the chest.

  • Blood in the sputum.

Other Symptoms May Include

  • Chills and fever.

  • Sweating at night.

  • No appetite, or weight loss.

  • Weakness or fatigue.

Many times patients who are suffering from Tb but they do not exhibit any symptoms are called Latent TB patients as well as careers. TB is a communicable disease transmitted via air (droplet infection - sneezing, coughing, spitting in philosophy) from the patient to a healthy human. It is curable and preventable. It is not a genetically transferred disease. It doesn't spread by sharing food, drink, clothes, washroom, toothbrush, or shaking hands etc.

Tuberculosis Infection Is Rising Again: WHO

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Tuberculosis is the most infectious killer disease after COVID -19. Recently on October 27, 2022, WHO released its report titled “Global Tuberculosis Report 2022”. This report states that the cases of Tuberculosis have increased worldwide and this has happened after a gap of twenty years. According to the WHO this seems to be an alarming sign as we were supposed to eradicate the disease by 2030 which is one of the health targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs].


Another alarming sign is the rise of TB cases in the south East Asian region. As per the report the country which has shown the maximum number of new cases is India, followed by Indonesia, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not only that, but India also tops the chart of death numbers by the deadly disease, followed by Indonesia, and Myanmar in second and third position respectively.


Major Facts About Tuberculosis Disease Infection

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  • It is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which mainly attacks human lungs.

  • It is a curable and preventable disease. It is spread via droplet infection (air is the medium).

  • About 1/4th of the global population has TB infection but all of them are not capable of spreading the bacteria.

  • Although it is a curable disease, still 1.6 million people died due to TB in 2021.

  • In 2021 only 10.6 million people got infected with TB which includes 6.0 million males, 3.6 million females and 1.2 million children.

  • Between 2015 - 2020 TB cases were declining steadily and the cases dropped down by 11% during that period. However, this decline was less than 9% as per the Strategy to End TB by the UN SDGs (it has to be a 20% decline between 2015- 2020).

Tuberculosis In India

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According to the WHO report, an increment of 18% (in 2021) is seen in the notified cases of India compared to the 2020 data. This increment is mainly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic also led to a major disruption in the goal of making India TB-free by 2025. As per the Indian government data it has already started to fulfil the gap created by the pandemic and over 22 crore people are screened for TB in 2021, for early detection and prevention of the disease. One primary concern which India faces in terms of TB treatment is that it homes the maximum number of drug-resistant TB-related TB patients. Not only that India accounts for 36% of global TB related deaths among HIV-negative people.


National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme (India) Latest Findings

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  • As per the NTEP the total number of TB patients, which includes both new and relapse ones, notified during 2021 was 19,33,381. This number was 16,28,161 in the year 2020. This data shows a 19% increase in TB-notified patients.

  • In India, Childhood TB still remains a paramount problem and contributes to 31% of the global burden of TB.

  • After a gap of 60 years, India conducted its second National TB Prevalence Survey from 2019-2021. The first such survey was conducted in the years 1955-58.

  • As per the survey, the microbiologically confirmed cases of Pulmonary tuberculosis in the age group of 15 & above 15 years is 316/ 100,000 population. Maximum prevalence is seen in Delhi (534/100,000) and the lowest prevalence belongs to the state of Kerala (115/100,000). Not only that, the prevalence of all forms of tuberculosis across all age groups is 312/per 100,000 population.

  • One of the key findings of the survey also states the fact that the high prevalence and burden of TB in India is associated with Food Insecurity and Malnutrition. India slipping down in Global Hunger Index to 107th position in 2022, is also an alarming sign for the coming times.

  • India’s Centre government and health ministry claim to eradicate TB by 2025, five years ahead of the UN SGPs.

How We Can Erase TB Epidemic ?

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Well, to eradicate the TB epidemic these few steps are crucial

  • Early diagnosis of TN with universal drug-susceptibility testing as drug-resistant TB is increasing.

  • Then systematic screening of the contacts and high-risk groups (like HIV-positive, malnourished, smokers, etc)

  • Treatment of all patients including drug-resistant TB patients.

  • Preventive treatment of persons at high risk and vaccination against Tuberculosis.

  • Now, comes the role of government and funds. All the steps of prevention, and detection can reach people if the government is alert and prioritizes the disease and its fatal outcome. This can save millions of lives worldwide.

  • Social awareness programmes and health policies, poverty reduction, food security, better healthcare tracing and management, etc are integral steps that need to be taken by any government to erase the deadly disease.


Conclusion

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Tuberculosis is a deadly disease which engulfs millions of lives on this planet every year. It is a preventable and curable disease, we need to be more alert, dedicated, and precise in our healthcare system to provide the best treatment possible for people suffering from this disease. We need to educate people and spread awareness too, especially in poor and economically weak countries. So, let's unite and fight against this lethal killer of mankind.

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