Tuberculosis is a dangerous bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. It is caused by an organism called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is typically spread through the air when someone with the disease coughs, sneezes or speaks. Many people have the tuberculosis bacteria in their body without ever getting sick. This is known as a latent TB infection. But when tuberculosis begins causing symptoms, it's called TB disease and can be quite dangerous if treatment isn’t administered.
Symptoms of Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis symptoms are similar to a bad bout of flu. They can include a nasty cough that lasts three weeks or longer, blood or phlegm in the cough, chest pain, fevers, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss and weakness. The disease can progress without treatment and eventually lead to death.
Prevention and Treatment
Some people are more prone to get TB disease than others, including those whose immunity is compromised by a disease like HIV or diabetes, those who have had tuberculosis in the past and people who abuse alcohol or drugs. People who work in health care also are more likely to get the disease. There is a vaccine for tuberculosis, but it is rarely administered in the United States and is often used in countries where tuberculosis is more common.
Even if someone has a latent TB infection, doctors may want to treat it, as there is a chance it could develop into TB disease. This treatment involves a course of several antibiotics, and the treatment is much easier than it is for TB disease. Treatment of active TB disease is extensive, and it typically involves taking a number of different antibiotics for a total of six to nine months. But it is very important for those with TB disease to finish the course of medications in order to successfully cure the disease and prevent the spread of it to others.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Tablets approved with bedaquiline and linezolid for highly treatment-resistant pulmonary tuberculosis