22 March 2012

10 quick TB facts

Absolutely anyone can get TB - even you. Here are some facts about this disease that everybody needs to know on SA TB Day (24 March 2012).


Tuberculosis, or TB as it is generally known, affects millions of South Africans. In fact, in the year 2009, TB was listed as the cause of death on the death certificates of more than 82 000 of our citizens. Many people who are HIV-positive, die from TB.

There is now also multi-drug-resistant TB doing the rounds. Antibiotics are largely ineffective in treating this, which poses a real danger to the community.

Anyone can get TB. Here are some facts about this disease that everybody needs to know on SA TB Day (24 March 2012).

  • Tuberculosis, or TB, is a chronic infectious disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
  • It usually affects the lungs, but can attack other parts of the body, such as the joints, bones, the nervous system and lymph nodes.
  • TB is a global problem, although undeveloped countries usually have much higher incidences than developed countries.
  • There were an estimated 1.8 million deaths globally due to TB in 2009, making it the leading cause of bacterial death in adults. South Africa has one of the highest reported TB infection rates in the world.
  • TB is mainly spread by breathing in air-borne bacteria from people with active infectious TB disease.
  • A person can be infected by the TB organism for years without getting sick or spreading the disease to others.
  • If your immune system is weakened for some reason, latent TB infection can develop into active disease. This can happen to anyone.
  • Although TB can be treated, the minimum period required for successful treatment is six months, and medication must be taken exactly as prescribed.
  • Failure to complete the treatment regimen may result in the emergence of drug resistant strains of TB. This has already happened in SA.
  • In some parts of the world, such as South Africa, TB is the most important opportunistic infection of people with HIV.

(Source: Health24: A – Z of TB


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