Do you take your health seriously? Well, even if you do, there isn’t much you can do about diseases like tuberculosis. Fortunately, if you live in the US or Europe, then society is largely free of this lethal disease, but unfortunately, it’s been coming back! Why? Because bacteria are slowly becoming immune to antibiotics! These are 25 Little-Known Tuberculosis Facts You’ll Want To Know.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Most of the time, it affects the lungs, but other parts of the body can be affected as well.
Most infections don't cause any symptoms. This is known as latent tuberculosis. 10% of the time, however, this latent infection progresses to active symptoms.
Once you develop active symptoms, without treatment, you only have a roughly 50% chance of survival.
The classic symptoms are coughing blood, fevers, and weight loss. Once other organs are affected, additional symptoms will arise.
The disease is spread when people with active tuberculosis cough or sneeze. People with latent tuberculosis cannot spread the disease.
People with HIV or AIDS, as well as smokers, contract tuberculosis much more easily. In fact, tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among people with HIV.
The most common way to diagnose tuberculosis is with a chest X-ray, but there's also a blood test that can be done as well.
Treatment of the disease requires taking multiple antibiotics over a long period of time.
Given that resistance to antibiotics is increasing around the world, rates of multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) are increasing.
Get ready for a terrifying statistic - nearly 1 out of every 3 people in the world is infected with some form of tuberculosis.
Keep in mind, however, the vast majority of those cases are latent, meaning there are no symptoms.
95% of deaths from tuberculosis occur in developing countries.
About 80% of people in Asian and African countries test positive for latent tuberculosis while 5-10% of people in the US test positive for latent tuberculosis. The reason for this is largely due to the availability of antibiotics and vaccines in developed nations.
What might be surprising to some is that Tuberculosis is not a new disease at all. While it wasn't discovered until the 1800's, archaeologists have reason to believe that even ancient Egyptians 6,000 years ago suffered from the disease.
The disease was first identified in 1882 by German physician Robert Koch.
It used to have a mortality rate of nearly 100%. Even with that percentage dropping due to antibiotics and vaccines, there are still an estimated 2 million deaths due to tuberculosis every year.
It was known simply as "consumption" or "the white plague" since doctors could do little to prevent the body from wasting away.
The first effective antibiotic wouldn't be discovered for another 50 years (1940's).
Due to the antibiotic resistance we mentioned earlier, tuberculosis is making a comeback, especially in countries like South Africa and Russia.
Tuberculosis has been on the decline in the US for decades, but the rate of decline has been slowing down.
The two most effective antibiotics are isoniazid and rifampsicin. As we said, tuberculosis is slowly becoming immune to these. Back up antibiotics do exist, but they cost nearly $500,000 per treatment.
When the disease becomes resistant to the backup drugs, it is labeled as XDR-TB, or extensively drug-resistant TB. At this point, treatment options are limited.
When antibiotics aren't taken exactly as prescribed, it gives the disease a chance to become resistant.
The problem right now is that companies don't have a financial incentive to produce new antibiotics. Of the large economies in the world, both the US and UK have expressed a desire to provide public funding to develop new drugs, but as of now it is still in the planning phases.
Images: Featured Image: Shutterstock, 25. wikimedia commons (public domain), 24. pixabay (public domain), 23. Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 22. wikimedia (public domain), 21-12. pixabay (public domain), 11. Max Pixel (public domain), 10. wikimedia commons (public domain), 9-1. pixabay (public domain)