TB Situational Analysis

What is TB?

TB is an infectious disease caused by bacteria known as Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. It affects lungs, and can also spread to other parts of the body. Although a human body may harbor the bacteria that cause tuberculosis, in most individuals the immune system usually prevents one from becoming sick.

For this reason, there is a distinction between being infected and carrying the TB gems somewhere in the body in a dormant state called latent TB and becoming sick with TB called active TB. In latent TB, a person has TB infection, but the bacteria remain in the body in an inactive state and cause no symptoms. Latent TB is not contagious. However, it can turn into active TB when there is reduced immunity i.e. when, (triggered). Active TB makes one sick, It signs and symptoms will depend on the organ that is involved and include: Prolonged cough with or without sputum which may or may not have blood, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, fever, night sweats, chills, (hot flashes) and loss of appetite. 

The TB bacteria are spread from person to person through microscopic droplets released into the air when someone with lung TB coughs, speaks, sneezes, spits, laughs or sings. People are likely to get tuberculosis from someone they live with, work with, or stay in close proximity.  The risk of developing active TB is much higher among people with reduced immunity from:

  • Poor diet
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Long term use of some medications such as systemic steroids
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Smoking
  • Other people at risk are the very young or those advanced in age and persons who live or work in overcrowded and poor ventilation places.

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The material on this page was developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), and all data come from the WHO Global TB Control report.

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