Tuberculos (TB) is a communicable disease caused by the tubercle bacillus, a mycobacterium tuberculosis. Often, the disease advances when the bacillus begins to spread widely within the lungs thereby causing the creation of tubercles. Tubercles are hard nodules, which are almost cheese-like and function to pore holes into the respiratory muscles in the lungs leading to formation of cavities. The cavities also erode the blood vessels as the disease advances thereby causing the person to cough and release red blood. In the current study, a background on TB is conducted. The disease’s physiology is presented as well. Besides, recommendations are provided on the best strategy to curb the prevalence of TB.
The history of TB can be traced back to the 18th Century within Europe as well as North America. The diseases started as an epidemic of the rapidly developing industrialized societies (Geiter, 2000). At the initial stages, the disease was known as ‘consumption’ and was among the leading causes of death depending on people’s various age groups in the European countries. Around the 20th Century, the hygiene and diet of several people changed within the areas which caused an improvement in the health and hygiene (Geiter, 2000). Notablyy, antibiotic drugs have been used to reduce the span of treatment since the 1940s Currently, it takes a few months to treat the disease.
TB is one of the deadliest diseases in the world, with a quarter of the world suffering from the infection. Currently, there are over 1.3 million deaths across the world that is TB-related (Divangahi, 2013). Nonetheless, TB is more likely to kill people who have been infected with HIV. Data from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) indicated that over 2.8 cases in every 100,000 people in 2017 died as a result of the TB disease (Jacobs, 2018). This number indicates a decrease from the number in 2016, meaning a gradual reduction in its infection over the decades. CDC estimates that approximately 13% of the cases of TB in the U.S. possessing a similar genotypic data are attributed to the new transmissions in the region (Jacobs, 2018). Local programs to prevent the transmission of TB are currently in use to estimate the extent in certain areas such as the US. Researchers use various tools to design and highlight health measures for both the public and private levels, including defining the sum of all the latest instances that the transmissions have emerged.
TB is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacterium that infects the human physiology. The bacterium often attacks various parts of the lungs. However, the TB bacteria might infect various parts of the body such as kidneys, spine, or the brain (Johnstone, 1995). Notably, not everyone infected with TB gets ill immediately or even after several days or months. Consequently, two conditions of TB infections exist, namely: the TB disease as well as the Latent TB Infection. According to Jacobs (2018), the bacterium is airborne. Hence, it often spreads from one individual to the other. Sneezing, coughing of the infected individuals are some of the means that the bacteria are regularly spread into the air. People who are close to an infected individual would easily breathe these bacteria and acquire the infection. Despite this simple analogy, several misconceptions exist as to how TB is spread.
Jacobs (2018) coins various myths that do not lead to the spread of the bacteria. The first misconception is through shaking of hands with infected persons, or touching linens or toilet seats that have already been used by an infected person. Other ways that TB is not spread include sharing toothbrushes, kissing or sharing drinks. Ideally, the core mode of transmission is when one breathes in unclean air whereby the TB bacterium is present. It settles within the lungs areas and grows once there. Upon attaching themselves in an individual’s lungs, the bacteria potentially moves through the blood to various parts of the human physiology that may include the spine, brains or the kidney (Jacobs, 2018). Within the lungs or the throats, such bacteria easily spread to other people. Notably, TB from other body parts is not as infectious. It is common that people who suffer from TB spreads the bacteria to those who they hang around with. Such people include family persons, co-workers, friends, or even peers who go to the same school.
TB infections are either latent or disease-related. The Latent TB bacteria often live in the body of a person without making them sick. This happens when most people who breathe in the TB bacteria contract the disease and their body is able to fight it off and prevents it from growing. People who have latent TB infection often elicit no response. They also do not experience any sickness and often cannot spread it to other people (Divangahi, 2013). In most cases, however, upon testing, these people indicate a positive blood test which often develops into a full-blown TB disease when the TB is not handled at the latent stage (Divangahi, 2013). Divangahi (2013) adds that for most people with latent infection, they seldom develop into a TB case and may harbour the bacteria for a lifetime. However, other people with a weak immune system may easily cause the bacteria to multiply and cause the TB to spread.
The TB bacteria often affect the immune system. People with a stronger immune system often have a latent TB and often have a means to ward off the bacteria so that it does not multiply. However, for individuals with a weak immune system such as HIV-infected people and others with chronic diseases, the bacteria easily multiply and becomes a full-blown disease if not addressed earlier. Some of the symptoms of TB disease are a dry cough that could last more than 3 weeks. Additionally, the person experiences pain in their chest area and may often cough up blood or thick sputum. Further, the person experiences weakness and weight loss, which often occurs due to a lack of appetite in the person. Further, the person experiences chills, fevers, and severe sweating in the night. Any of these signs could mean the person has the TB disease and should seek medical attention as soon as possible (Jacobs, 2018). Being an immune system-related disease, some people are at a higher risk of contracting the TB disease. These groups of people include those who have HIV infection, those who have had the bacteria within the last 2 years, babies, as well as younger age children, illegal drugs users, sickly people, the elderly, and people who have had wrong TB treatments often develop this disease with much ease. James cautions that anyone who belongs to these groups, whether in latent TB stage or having the disease itself, should take the appropriate medication to safeguard from its spread.
Notable research from bodies such as the CDC caution against averting the transmission of TB through the close association with known TB patients found in crowded places Jacobs, 2018). Such private spaces may include hospitals, prisons, as well as homeless shelters. Major measures are taken by airlines, and other places where people meet often to prevent the deliberate on the spread of these bacteria among people. For instance, travellers who anticipate a possible exposure to people having TB over a period are advised to have a TB blood test or the TB skin test before they leave the United States (Jacobs, 2018). Upon receiving negative results, the doctors advised them to take further tests within duration of 8 to 10 weeks since their return to their country of residence. In some cases, some travellers who have prolonged exposure to TB patients over different countries are recommended to have annual tests for the TB disease. Ultimately, beyond prevention, the treatment of TB is an undertaking that most scientists have delved into. Based on various circumstances related to the patient, various drugs have been developed to curb the spread of the disease. The aim of the treatment is to kill the TB bacteria from the body. Davingahi (2013) avers that TB bacteria has proven to die very slowly over time meaning that the patient will be required to take the drugs over an extended period. Consequently, doctors recommend that people take the drugs diligently even when they start to feel better after some time. In some cases, when the drug dosage is not taken completely, the bacteria fails to die leading to a relapse and the person may fall sick again.
Divangahi, M. The New Paradigm of Immunity to Tuberculosis. New York, NY: Springer, 2013. 24th November 2018. https://www.springer.com/us/book/9781461461104
Geiter, L. (2000). Ending Neglect: The Elimination of Tuberculosis in the United States, 24th November 2018. http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2003/Ending-Neglect-The-Elimination-of-Tuberculosis-in-the-US/TB8pagerfinal.PDF
Jacobs, W. R. (2018). Tuberculosis and the Tubercle Bacillus. 24. November 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3320493/
Johnston, W. The Modern Epidemic: A History of Tuberculosis in Japan. Cambridge, Mass: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard Univ, 1995. Web. 24th November 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5432783/