Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious illness caused by the airborne bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB can cause serious health problems – particularly if it is not caught early. But the illness is curable, and testing and treatment are free
What parts of the body are affected by TB?
TB in the lungs or throat (pulmonary TB) are the only forms of the illness that are infectious, which means it can be passed on to other people. However, TB can also affect any other part of the body, including kidneys, brain or bones. This is called non-pulmonary TB – and is not infectious.
How is TB spread?
When someone with TB in their lungs or throat coughs or sneezes, they send droplets into the air that contain the TB bacteria. If you breathe in these bacteria over a long time you may become ill with TB. But most people won’t get ill because:
- You normally need to spend many hours close to a person with infectious TB to breathe in enough bacteria to be at risk
- Most people’s immune systems are strong enough to kill off TB bacteria.
- TB cannot be spread through touch, sharing cutlery, bedding or clothes.
What is Drug-resistant TB?
Drug-resistant TB is a severe form of tuberculosis which is hard to treat because it does not respond to regular TB treatment. Different types of Drug- Resistant TB include mono-resistant TB, poly – resistant TB, multi- drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug – resistant TB (XDR-TB) is the commonest form of Drug- Resistant TB among TB patients.
TB & HIV – The link!
People who are living with HIV are more at risk of getting TB or Drug Resistant TB infection and disease. It is therefore important that if you are HIV positive you are screened regularly for TB symptoms and tested for TB. If you have TB and are HIV positive you can be started on antiretroviral treatment early to improve your response to TB medicines and prevent death. If you do not have TB you can be started on TB preventive treatment, this treatment will help prevent you from getting TB disease. Therefore, you must get tested for HIV and know your status.