What is Tuberculosis and How to keep it at Bay

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis...

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). It generally affects the lungs but it can also affect other parts of the body. Some infections do not have symptoms. This is known as latent tuberculosis. TB is majorly transmitted through air when people with active TB cough, spit, speak or sneeze. However, those with latent TB do not spread the disease, actively. The active TB is generally diagnosed in people with HIV/AIDS or the people who smoke. Whether you have active TB or latent TB, this is determined by the results of your chest X-ray reports.


Prevention of TB relies on the vaccination of infants, and detection and appropriate treatment during diagnosis.

The only vaccine available as of 2011 is Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG). In children, BCG decreases the risk of getting the infection by 20% and the risk of infection turning into disease by approximately 60%, according to the National Center of Biotechnology Information of USA. In the world, mostly around 90% of the children are vaccinated. The immunity that this vaccine provides decreases after nearly 10 years. It is therefore, important for parents to get their child vaccinated to avoid this disease. The disadvantage of this vaccine is that it makes the tuberculin skin test falsely positive and thereafter reduces the test’s use in screening by complicating the test itself.

Public Health Tips

According to WHO, one-third of the world is infected with the bacteria that cause TB. To avoid being infected by active TB, you should:

  • Not spend long periods in stuffy and enclosed rooms, with anyone who has the infection
  • Use protective measures, such as face masks, if you work in organisations that care for people who possess untreated Tb
  • Help and encourage the infected person to follow the treatment instructions
  • Ensure your house is adequately ventilated
  • Spend lesser time on public transports

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