Tuberculosis—or TB, is an extremely common problem found in poverty-stricken countries. TB is a contagious airborne infection, similar to chickenpox or the influenza virus. This infection is caused be the bacteria, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis is the #1 cause in death from infectious disease. Each year, 10.4 million people get infected and 2 million die—250,00 of which children.
Tuberculosis affects the lungs, and usually granulomatous lesions develop over time where the bacteria reside. On rare occasions, when not treated, tuberculosis can spread to other organs such as the brain, spine, and kidneys.
Symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, fever, vomiting, and weight loss. About 50% of untreated infected people with active TB die. However, there is also latent or inactive TB. Patients with this cannot infect others, but will always have a 5-10% chance of receiving active TB.
Patients with active TB will have to undergo a 6-9 month antibiotic treatment.
The poverty-stricken are affected most likely due to malnutrition, access to limited or poor healthcare, and crowded workspaces. This infection therefore does not occur in the United States as often as other countries, like Asia. One prevention vaccine for tuberculosis is Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG).
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“Tuberculosis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 8 Aug. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tuberculosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351250.