Tuberculosis In The News - TB

If you have watched any bit of news lately you more than likely have heard the subject of Tuberculosis come up.  Tuberculosis is often referred to as TB.  Many Americans have fear of this disease especially lately since there have been some known cases in the news so much. Should Americans be worried about TB?


Did you know that Tuberculosis is the most common infectious disease in the world today? 


What is it?  Where does it come from?  These are great questions to ask...


 It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and can lead to death if untreated. It causes about 2-3 million deaths per year and is especially prevalent in undeveloped, tropical countries.


Here's what WebMD says about TB:


Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that is most often found in the lungs (pulmonary TB) but can spread to other parts of the body (extrapulmonary TB). TB in the lungs is easily spread to other people through coughing or laughing. Treatment is often successful, though the process is long. Treatment time averages between 6 and 9 months.

Tuberculosis is either latent (dormant) or active.

  • Latent TB means that you have the TB-causing bacteria in your body, but you cannot spread the disease to others. However, you can still develop active TB.
  • Active TB means the infection is spreading in your body and, if your lungs are infected, you can spread the disease to others.

This is good information to have.  Remember that only people with Active TB can spread this infectious disease.  You may hear of someone you know or meet having latent TB but this type of infection cannot spread the disease.


A TB history lesson for you...


The incidence of tuberculosis of the lungs, the “white plague” that formerly affected millions of people, declined from the 1950s until 1984; sanatoriums were closed and routine screening was abandoned in the United States. Then, between 1984 and 1992, the incidence increased by 20%, chiefly because of immigration from countries where it is common and because of AIDS, which leaves people particularly vulnerable to the disease. Renewed efforts at control and advances in treatment have been rewarded with incidence declines each year, amounting to a total decline of 31% from 1992 to 1998.


Worldwide the outlook has been far less encouraging. In 1993 the World Health Organization declared TB a global health emergency; approximately one third of the world’s population is infected, and an estimated 3 million die each year. Spread of TB is especially rapid in areas with poor public health services and crowded living conditions. In homeless shelters and prisons, crowded conditions and inadequate treatment often go together. Areas where living conditions are disrupted by wars, famine, and natural disasters also are heavily affected.


Bottom line on TB.  We should be careful.  This is not something to take lightly.  But we should all be thankful to be Americans where diseases like TB do not have to worry us as much as they do people in other countries.


These are great resource sites to learn more about Tuberculosis:




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