Understanding World Tuberculosis Day

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World Tuberculosis Day is observed annually on 24 March to raise public awareness about the devastating health, social and economic consequences of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that primarily affects the lungs. Like Covid, Tuberculosis is spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing, which releases tiny droplets into the air.  There are many other similarities between Covid and TB.

We have effective treatments and rapid diagnostic tests for TB as we do with Covid. Many of our tried and true public health measures that prevent and control COVID-19 also stop the spread of TB.  Likewise, TB disproportionately affects marginalized populations and communities who experience poverty, inadequate housing and social inequities.  We also know that like Covid, TB is a family and community disease which puts added expectations and demands on caregivers who are most often women.

One massive difference between Covid and TB is that eradication is within our reach, the continued existence of TB is more related to global and community health inequities than by medical advancement and knowledge.  Eliminating TB is a priority for Canada and there is no better time than now to accelerate our efforts to eliminate this preventable and curable disease.

For more information about World Tuberculosis Day click here, and continue reading below to get the basics on TB and consider joining in on March 24th to raise awareness on TB,

Type of Tuberculosis

Latent Tuberculosis  

  • Bacteria are inactive and cause no symptoms.  Latent Tuberculosis is not contagious, but it can turn into active Tuberculosis, so treatment is important.

Active Tuberculosis

  • This condition makes you sick and, in most cases, and contagious. It can occur weeks or years after infection with the TB bacteria.

Symptoms of Tuberculosis includes:

  • Coughing for three or more weeks
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss

Treatment

 People diagnosed with active Tuberculosis disease generally have to take a combination of medications for 6 to 9 months. If you don’t complete the full treatment course, it’s highly likely the Tuberculosis infection may come back. making it much more difficult to treat.

. The most common combinations of medications for active Tuberculosis disease include:

  • Isoniazid
  • Ethambutol (Myambutol)
  • Pyrazinamide
  • Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)
  • Rifapentine (Priftin)

Vaccinations

A Tuberculosis vaccine, called the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, is mostly used in countries with a high prevalence of TB. This vaccine works better for children than for adults.

 Raising Awareness

1.     Getting tested

Testing for tuberculosis is simple, and most effective way to fight with the disease.

2.     Spread awareness

Many people with TB don’t even know they have it. This is why it’s important to spread awareness about how to get tested and treated.

3.     Volunteer or donate

Events are held to spread awareness and raise funds all around the globe on World   Tuberculosis Day. If you can’t find one, organize one yourself.