Tuberculosis or TB is an infectious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, which most commonly affect the lungs. It is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat and lungs of people with the active respiratory disease.
In healthy people, infection with Mycobacterium Tuberculosis often causes no symptoms, since the person’s immune system acts to “wall off” the bacteria. The symptoms of active TB of the lung are coughing, sometimes with sputum or blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. Tuberculosis is treatable with a six-month course of antibiotics.
TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB, cough, sneeze, or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
About one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.
People infected with TB bacteria have a 10% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a much higher risk of falling ill.
When a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms (a cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss etc.) may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care, and results in the transmission of the bacteria to others. People with active TB can infect 10-15 other people through close contact over the course of a year. Without proper treatment, 45% of HIV-negative people with TB on average and nearly all HIV-positive people with TB will die.
• Tuberculosis (TB) is a top infectious disease killer worldwide.
• In 2014, 9.6 million people fell ill with TB and 1.5 million died from the disease.
• Over 95% of TB deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and it is among the top 5 causes of death for women aged 15 to 44.
• In 2014, an estimated 1 million children became ill with TB and 140 000 children died of TB.
• TB is a leading killer of HIV-positive people: in 2015, 1 in 3HIV deaths was due to TB.
• Globally in 2014, an estimated 480 000 people developed multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).
• The Millennium Development Goal target of halting and reversing the TB epidemic by 2015 has been met globally. TB incidence has fallen by an average of 1.5% per year since 2000 and is now 18% lower than the level of 2000.
• The TB death rate dropped 47% between 1990 and 2015.
• An estimated 43 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2014.
• Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals.