THE KwaZulu-Natal Health Department MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo has raised concerns after the department established that many people around KwaZulu-Natal are contracting tuberculosis day-by-day, which leaves the department with a challenge to conduct more awareness campaigns.The department commenced with its third major TB campaign last month and are continuing to conduct more campaigns around KwaZulu-Natal.MEC Dhlomo said: “Although KwaZulu-Natal has made significant progress in improving the rate of curing people who have TB, there are still far too many new TB infections, and too many people who are unknowingly living with the disease. We have now decided that the fight against TB is bigger than one MEC, one department, or one government. It needs all of us.“ Therefore, the clarion call by His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini that all traditional leaders, traditional healers and priests should get involved in the fight to curb the spread of TB is an extremely important one. TB, from time immemorial, has been killing people. And it continues to do so. In KZN, the figures are enormous. We are told that if you have 250 new TB infections per 100 000 people, that is considered by the WHO as an epidemic. We in this province are four to five times more. We are sitting with up to 800 new TB infections.” Fever journalist Nosipho Mkhize spoke to a few people on the streets to hear their views on whether TB is still a problem in some communities.Nomusa Mavundla said: “I think TB is still a problem when it comes to preventing it from being passed from one person to the next because a lot of people don’t seek for help in time.”Zinhle Ndokweni said: “TB can be prevented from spreading if people practised hygiene like coughing with your mouth covered and washing your hands before touching food. I really hate it when people don’t want to open their windows for fresh air when I’m taking a taxi, because what if someone coughs? This puts a high risk of us contracting the disease.”The founder of Enhlanhleni Isibani Sezwe non-governmental organisation (NGO) in KwaDabeka, Pastor Ntshangase said TB has always been a major issue in the community. “A lot of people in my organisation have been affected by TB and not only TB but HIV as well. “They live in appalling conditions where hygiene is not practised at all which increases the risk of more people being infected. We try our best to conduct awareness campaigns and educate people about TB.”HOW DO PEOPLE GET TB?The disease is passed on from person to person. When a person who has TB coughs, sneezes or spits, germs are spread into the air from where they can be breathed in.Fortunately, not all those infected contract TB, in most cases the germs are sealed off in the body and they do not multiply. However, if the body’s defences can no longer control the germs, they become active and the person gets TB.WHO IS AT RISK?• Close contacts of TB patients• Children under five years• Persons with diseases like diabetes• HIV positive persons with lowered immune systems• Persons who take excessive alcohol and drug addicts• Persons with poor nutrition and lack of food• Persons suffering from stress• Persons living in poorly ventilated, over-crowded roomsWHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF TB?• A cough for longer than two weeks• Chest pains• Tiredness and weakness of the body• Loss of appetite and weight• Night sweats, even when it is cold• Coughing up bloodHOW CAN TB BE PREVENTED?• People on TB medication must complete their treatment, this prevents the spread of TB.• Cover your mouth and nose with tissue paper or your hands when coughing or sneezing. Do not cough, sneeze or spit on other people. Do not let other people cough, sneeze or spit on you.• Wash hands with soap and water.• Immunise of all babies at a clinic within a year of birth.• Keep your body healthy by eating balanced meals consisting of food like meat, fish, eggs, beans, mills, amasi, brown bread, maize meal, vegetables and fruits.• Alcohol should be avoided because it lowers the body’s resistance to sickness and affects the treatment.• Smoking causes further damage to the lungs and can also cause heart disease and lung cancer.• Keep your window open in your home — fresh air blows the TB germs away and sunshine kills the TB germs.• Keep your body healthy by exercising.TB IN THE WORKPLACE:Once a person has been on TB treatment for two weeks, they are not infectious. Persons with TB can continue to work. TB treatment can be given by a treatment supporter at work.