Tuberculosis is a disease that dates as back as the Ancient Egyptian civilization of the Pharaohs. For its presence has been found in the preserved spines of the ancient Egyptian mummies. During the 18th and 19th century, an epidemic of this fearsome disease rampaged throughout North America and Europe, before Robert Koch the German microbiologist discovered the cause of tuberculosis in 1882. Following Robert Koch’s discovery, vaccine and effective drug treatment that was developed, led to the belief that this illness has been almost defeated. At a point of time, even the United Nations, suggested that TB (Tuberculosis) would get eliminated by 2025.
Nevertheless, the counts of the patients suffering from this disease started to rise in the US and worldwide in the mid-80s. In 1993 the WHO (World Health Organization) declared Tuberculosis as a global emergency. Although with proper diet and medications this disease is curable, but without proper treatment experts say that two third of the people suffering from TB will die.
There are two types of Tuberculosis:
In the latent TB cases, the TB bacteria remain in a dormant mode in the body. It doesn’t cause any symptoms of the disease and so is not contagious. However, the latent TB bacteria can become active any point of time. About one third of the world population is believed to have latent TB. Although there is only 10% chance that latent TB will get active, but people who have compromised immune system, have higher risks of triggering this latent disease. In active TB, the disease causing bacteria shows symptoms of TB and this illness is contagious. TB can affect all age groups in all parts of the global demography.
TB is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. This disease spreads through the air, when someone suffering from this disease sneezes, coughs, laughs, talks or spit. Although TB is contagious, but it is not easy to catch. However, the chances of getting infected with this disease is more from someone you work or live, rather than from a stranger. With people suffering from active TB, it take not more than two weeks to be non-contagious, if they are provided proper medications.
In most of the cases the common diagnostic test for detecting this disease is a skin test whereby a small injection of PPD tuberculin (which is an extract of the TB bacterium) is given below the inside forearm of the patient. The injection site is then checked after 2-3 days. If the site of the injection shows signs of red bump, gets swollen and hard, then it’s likely that the patient is suffering from TB. Apart from that, other tests which are also used for diagnosis of this disease are blood tests, x-ray of the patient’s chest, which are done along with the above mentioned skin test.