Facts about tuberculosis

2016-03-16 06:00
March is TB Awareness Month.

March is TB Awareness Month.

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ACCORDING to the World Health Organisation, tuberculosis (TB) is the top infectious disease killer worldwide. South Africa is said to be among the countries with the highest TB rate in the world.

March is TB Awareness Month and people who suspect they have developed TB should seek medical attention, and anyone who is diagnosed with TB is urged to take their medication as prescribed.


• TB is an infectious disease that is spread through the air and is caused by a bacterium called mycobacterium tuberculosis. Respiratory spread occurs when a person who has active tuberculosis coughs, sneezes or spits.

• TB usually affects the lungs, however, it can affect other parts of the body such as the brain and kidneys.

• Symptoms include prolonged cough, fever, night sweats, weight and appetite loss, tiredness, weakness, chest pain and coughing up blood.

• People who are HIV positive, diabetic or smokers have a higher chance of developing TB.

• There is a greater chance of TB spreading in small spaces, overcrowded and poorly ventilated areas.

• A person only contracts the illness if they inhale TB germs. Hence, it cannot be contracted by shaking hands, touching toilet seats and sharing food.

• To prevent the spread of any germs, people should always turn away from others and cough into their arm or into a tissue. Dispose off the tissue immediately.

• Although TB is contagious, it is not easy to catch. A person is more likely to get TB from someone they live or work with rather than from a stranger. Most people with active TB are no longer contagious if they had appropriate drug treatment for at least two weeks. ER24’s Emergency Contact Centre can be reached 24 hours a day on 084 124 for any medical emergency.
- Chitra Bodasing, ER24 spokesperson.

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