World Tuberculosis Day: 8 Fast Facts


Millions of South Africans may already have latent tuberculosis (TB), which is why lifelong resolution is crucial for awareness, early detection and proper treatment. Today – March 24, the World Tuberculosis Day and South Africans should consider that everyone can catch tuberculosis, but the disease can be prevented and in most cases treated, says Novartis South Africa.

"It is extremely important that people understand the disease, the risks and why they need to complete the prescribed treatment,»Real dr. Chris Nathaniel, Medical Head – Special Care: South Africa at Novartis SA. "If they are not tested for tuberculosis, they delay treatment or do not complete the prescribed treatment, they endanger themselves and the people who are close to them."

This year, World Tuberculosis Day is thematizedIt's time and calls for increased efforts to reduce the incidence of tuberculosis in the world.

8 Facts about tuberculosis

TB is the main cause of death

Tuberculosis (TB) is the most common cause of death in South Africa, as only in 2017, 22,000 died of tuberculosis, and 56,000 died both by HIV and tuberculosis (1). In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that in 2017, 322,000 people in South Africa had active tuberculosis.

South Africa is one of the countries with the highest burden of tuberculosis in the world and was only among the eight countries that represented 66% of the new tuberculosis cases in the world in 2017. In 2017, 10 million new cases of tuberculosis were estimated globally, of which 5.8 million men, 3.2 million women and 1 million children. People living with HIV accounted for 9% of all.

Up to 80% of South Africans may be infected with TB bacteria


About one quarter of the world's population has latent tuberculosis, which means people are infected with TB bacteria, but (yet) they are not ill with the disease and can not tolerate the disease. In South Africa, up to 80% of people infected with tuberculosis, the highest latent TB prevalence rate estimated at 88%, has been found among people aged 30-39 years old living in urban municipalities and informal settlements. The disease of tuberculosis or active TB is when a person who has a latent TB begins to show symptoms. In general, approximately 5 to 10% of people with latent TB who are not treated for this will develop active tuberculosis within a certain time of their life (2).

You can have latent tuberculosis and you do not know this for years

Latent TB can progress into active tuberculosis only a few years after infection when the immune system is endangered by another cause, such as HIV, diabetes, and chronic renal failure.

Cough is not the only TB symptom

The symptoms of TB depend on which area of ​​the body has been infected. If someone has a pulmonary disease – tuberculosis in the lungs – they may have cough, chest pain, coughing or mucus, or weakness or fatigue, loss of weight, lack of appetite, chills, fever and night sweating.

In addition to lung, TB can also affect other parts of the body, causing symptoms such as increased lymph nodes; bone and joint pain; vomiting, severe headache, light inconvenience, neck stiffness and seizures; abdominal pain, diarrhea and bleeding from the rectum; or blood in the urine. In children, TB can also cause unsuccessful growth or weight loss.

TB is in the air

TB is transmitted from person to person by air. When people with pulmonary tuberculosis cough, sneeze or spit, they drive TB calls into the air. According to WHO statistics, the person has to breathe only a few of these calls to get infected.

One person with active TB can infect up to 15 others in one year

When a person first develops active tuberculosis, symptoms (such as cough, fever, night sweats or weight loss) may be mild for months. This can lead to delays in finding a supply and causing the transmission of bacteria to others. People with active TB can infect 10-15 other people with close contact in one year.

If the TB treatment does not complete, it causes inferior forms of tuberculosis

Treatment of TB usually involves a 6 month treatment. However, many people decide to stop taking medicines as soon as they get better. This can cause the remaining bacteria in the body to adjust and become resistant to medicines. When a person has a drug-resistant tuberculosis or a multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB), new drugs or combinations of drugs should be used. Resistive TB strains can be transmitted to others, making the simplest treatment ineffective. Extensive drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) is a form of tuberculosis that is resistant to at least four of the major drugs for tuberculosis.

TB treatment is available

Active tuberculosis, drug-sensitive, is treated with standard 6-month treatment with 4 antimicrobials. A vast majority of cases of tuberculosis can be cured when medicines are available and are taken properly. At the global level, the success of the treatment of people newly diagnosed with tuberculosis was 82% in 2016, effective diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis saved 54 million lives worldwide in the period 2000-2017.

Who is the author?

Novartis is the world's leading healthcare company that, with innovative science and digital technologies, creates transformative treatment in areas of high medical needs. When looking for new drugs, they are always among the world's leading companies investing in research and development.


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