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By Pharmacist, Doreen


Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a rod-shaped,nonmotile, acid-fast bacterium.  Tuberculosis affects mainly the lungs (Pulmonary Tuberculosis), but it can infect other organs of the body like bones, joints, genito-urinary, intestines, skin, tuberculous meningitis and others.  


Tuberculosis is an airborne disease. It is spread to susceptible individuals through the inhalation of droplets which disperse in the air when an infected person (with Active Tuberculosis) sneezes, coughs or laughs.


If not treated promptly and properly, Active Tuberculosis can lead to serious health complications. Not everyone with Tuberculosis infection becomes sick and develops symptoms, i.e. develops Active Tuberculosis. In some people, the bacteria can remain dormant and does not cause any symptoms.


Tuberculosis (TB) is a leading killer from a single infectious agent.  Globally, TB ranks higher than HIV/AIDS, and is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.  TB is one of the major global public health challenges and is a re-emerging infectious disease. WHO estimates that one third of world’s population is infected with TB almost 9 million people develop TB disease every year and around 2 million deaths every year. It is the major cause of death from a single infectious agent among adults in the developing world. Generally, incidence is high in Africa, Asia and South America.  


Signs & Symptoms

  • A cough that lasts for more than two weeks
  • Cough with blood-stained sputum
  • Fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss 
  • Fever and chills
  • Dyspnoea, night sweats, chest pain and hoarseness of voice
  • Sweating excessively, mainly at night

Incubation period: 2 – 10 weeks



TB disease is treated with a multiple drug regimen for 6-8 months.  Drug resistant TB is more difficult, requiring 4-6 drugs for 18-24 months; it should be managed by  a trained specialist.

Patients under treatment for tuberculosis

SHOULD NOT TRAVEL until the treating physician is satisfied that the patient is not infectious and therefore of no risk to others. The importance of COMPLETING THE PRESCRIBED COURSE OF TREATMENT SHOULD BE STRESSED.

Avoid contact with other people, by staying at home or being admitted to the hospital, to prevent the infection from spreading




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