Tuberculosis has returned with a vengeance in Europe. TB is currently a worldwide pandemic that kills around 1.7 million people a year. The infection is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis and destroys patients’ lung tissue, causing them to cough up the bacteria, which then spreads through the air and can be inhaled by others.
Most people who develop symptoms of a TB infection first became infected in the past. However, in some cases, the disease may become active within weeks after the primary infection. Symptoms include: cough, coughing up blood, sweats, fatigue, fever, unexplained weight loss, chest pain, difficulty breathing and wheezing. 7% of patients die from TB and with drug-resistant forms of TB it raises it to 50%.
The WHO’s action plan for tackling tuberculosis emphasises the need for doctors and patients to be more aware of the disease and its symptoms, to diagnose and treat cases promptly with the right drugs, and follow patients up over many months or years to ensure they take their medications.
If that doesn’t happen “not only are these people quietly and painfully dying, they are also spreading the disease,” Ditiu said. (The executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership told a news conference in London)
If you are a healthcare worker and think you are around patients with TB you may get a skin test and be sure to get your fluid repellent medical uniforms to protect you from bodily fluids and blood to prevent the spread of germs.