Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious airborne disease caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is a serious global health issue that can lead to death without treatment.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB is a leading cause of death and a major public health concern in many countries.
Although TB is treatable, the lack of access to healthcare and effective treatments means that millions of people still suffer and die from the disease each year.
In order to effectively combat TB, it is important to understand the facts about this potentially deadly disease and to take the necessary steps to reduce the risk of infection.
Causes of Tuberculosis
In recent years, a growing body of research has shed light on the causes of the disease, and in particular, the work of Daniel Murrell, a Harvard and Stanford trained infectious disease specialist, which was published in the Healthline Journal is instrumental in this field.
Murrell believes that there are several causes of TB. He divides these causes into two main categories: environmental factors and individual risk factors.
The environmental factors that can contribute to the development of TB are those substances, conditions and people a person may be exposed to on a regular basis. For example, living in a household where there is either active or latent TB can increase the chances of a person contracting the disease. Additionally, living in a congested and overcrowded environment can also increase the risk. Finally, living in a place where poor ventilation is abundant can facilitate the spread of TB between people.
When it comes to individual risk factors, Murrell opines that certain physiological characteristics, such as being immunocompromised, can increase the chances of becoming infected with TB. Having certain medical conditions, such as HIV or diabetes, can also increase the risk. Additionally, certain lifestyles and behavioral choices, such as smoking or poor nutrition, can also make an individual more susceptible to TB.
According to Murrell, these environmental and individual risk factors are the main causes of TB. He asserts that they can increase an individual’s risk of contracting the disease and should be taken into consideration when assessing the likelihood of an individual developing the disease. As such, these risk factors should be taken into consideration both in TB prevention efforts and in the treatment of those already infected with the disease.
Preventive Strategies for Tuberculosis
The spread of this disease is a global problem, with one-third of the world’s population infected with the TB bacteria. In order to reduce the prevalence of TB, prevention strategies need to be implemented to control its spread.
We shall be discussing the various prevention strategies for controlling the spread of TB, as suggested by the United States National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).
First and foremost, it is important to promote early detection of TB. The NFID recommends the use of screening tests, such as chest X-rays, sputum tests, and the tuberculin skin test, to ensure that infected individuals receive a diagnosis and proper treatment as soon as possible. Early diagnosis is essential for effective treatment and containment of the disease, and to minimise transmission to others. In addition, the NFID suggests that individuals at high risk of infection should be screened regularly.
The NFID also recommends vaccination against TB as an effective prevention strategy. The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is currently the only approved vaccine to protect against TB. The vaccine is typically provided to children in countries where TB is endemic, in order to reduce the risk of developing the disease. It is important to note, however, that the effectiveness of the BCG vaccine is limited and there is no guarantee that it will completely protect against TB infection.
In addition to early detection and vaccination, the NFID promotes improved hygiene as a key prevention measure. This includes regular hand washing with soap and water, using a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding close contact with individuals who are infected with TB. It is also important to ensure proper ventilation in enclosed spaces, and to avoid sharing dishes, bedding, and other materials, in order to reduce the likelihood of infection.
The NFID also encourages the use of medication to prevent TB in high-risk individuals. Patients who are HIV-positive, those with close contacts to those infected with the disease, and those who have recently been tested or treated for TB, may be recommended for preventative treatment to protect them from becoming infected.2
Finally, the NFID suggests the use of public health interventions as a prevention strategy. This includes the implementation of government-funded public health campaigns, to educate people on the symptoms, risk factors, and modes of transmission of TB. It also involves contact tracing and isolating of infected individuals, in order to limit the spread of the disease.
In conclusion, it is clear that prevention strategies are essential for controlling the spread of tuberculosis. Early detection through screening tests, vaccination, improved hygiene, the use of medication, and public health interventions are all effective methods of preventing this infectious disease.