Tuberculosis (TB) is a life-threatening lung infection caused by a bacterium that spreads by minute droplets in the air breathed when coughing or sneezing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, while Johann Schonlein coined the term tuberculosis in 1834, the illness has been around for 3 million years (CDC).
The virus was so deadly that it was called the “white plague” in the 1700s due to the pale look of those who contracted it. Dr. Robert Koch identified the germ that causes tuberculosis on March 24, 1882. The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease petitioned for the day to be declared World Tuberculosis Day after a century.
Theme of World Tuberculosis Day 2022: This year’s theme is ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives,’ emphasising the need of investing resources to battle the virus and meeting pledges to end it. The struggle has taken on added significance in light of Covid-19, which has hampered advances in TB treatment and research. In addition, the topic assures access to prevention and treatment in order to reach the United Nations Health Organization’s goal of Universal Health Coverage.
The significance of World Tuberculosis Day: Tuberculosis affects roughly 2 billion people worldwide. According to World Health Organization data, 10.4 million people had TB in 2016, and 1.7 million died as a result of the disease.
However, due to several misunderstandings, it is not seen as a significant issue. Raising awareness of the virus can aid in the treatment of those who are at high risk. If at-risk people are effectively vaccinated, the illness might be cured and TB eradicated.
In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, 10 million people were afflicted with TB, with 1.5 million deaths. It was the 13th leading cause of mortality and the second leading cause of death among infectious disorders after Covid-19.
The most common type of TB is pulmonary tuberculosis, which affects the lungs, but extrapulmonary tuberculosis affects other parts of the body and is more frequent in persons with weakened immune systems, making it difficult to keep the infection isolated in one location.
TB symptoms that are common
Tuberculosis symptoms differ based on where the bacteria are growing in the body. Tuberculosis is caused by germs that develop in the lungs (pulmonary TB). Dr. Harish Chafle describes the signs and symptoms of tuberculosis.
The following are signs of TB in the lungs:
- A severe cough that lasts three weeks or more
- Chest discomfort
- Coughing up blood or sputum is a sign that something is wrong (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)
Other symptoms of TB disease are
- Weakness or fatigue
- Weight loss
- No appetite
- Sweating at night