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World Tuberculosis Day
3/28/2010 - Christine Traxler

Tuberculosis still affects thousands of people worldwide, and March 24th was set aside to remind us of that.

March 24th was World TB Day—a day to commemorate the date that Dr. Robert Koch announced the bacteria that causes tuberculosis or TB. But the day is more than that…

It’s a day when the Centers for Disease Control can focus in on a disease--tuberculosis—that most individuals don't necessarily think of.  We think of it as a disease that occurred many years ago and we really don't have a problem with it now, but one day to actually focus on it, and we can talk about the fact that it's estimated that a third of the world's population is infected with tuberculosis, so it is still an ongoing problem.

Tuberculosis kills nearly 2 million people worldwide each year. It’s a disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It normally affects the lungs but can affect other areas of the body as well. Symptoms of active disease include a cough lasting longer than three weeks, chest pain, coughing up blood, fatigue, weight loss, chills, fever and night sweats. TB can cause serious illness or death unless it’s treated.
It’s the leading cause of death among those affected with HIV. A total of 5200 cases of new TB were identified in the last year.

Latent TB infection means that an individual has been exposed and is infected with the bacteria but is not showing symptoms.  They are not contagious to other people around them. The bacterium are expelled into the air and somebody else can breathe that in, and then they become possibly infected with the bacterium.  You cannot get it from drinking or eating after somebody or kissing them.  It really is a matter of exposure through the air.

Those with active TB can spread the disease by coughing, sneezing, talking or singing…Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to TB should be tested since the disease is preventable and treatable if caught in time.

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