How it spreads
Of every 100 people with TB, between five and ten people show symptoms. In these people, the disease is called active. Tuberculosis kills more than half of the people who are infected if they do not get treatment.
Detection and treatment
Diagnosis of active TB relies on radiology. Doctors often look at an X-ray of the chest. In addition, they check body fluids. These fluids have microbes in them, which are grown in cell cultures. The cell cultures are then analysed to see if the person is infected with TB.
There is a vaccine against some forms of tuberculosis. It is called bacillus Calmette–Guérin vaccine.
TB used to be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. However, the bacterium is now highly resistant to most antibiotics. This resistance makes treatment difficult. Many different kinds of antibiotics need to be given over a long period of time. There is a form of tuberculosis that is resistant to all drugs.
Tuberculosis can have many symptoms. The most common include:
- A cough that does not go away, especially if the person is coughing up blood (this is called hemoptysis)
- Chest pain
- Not having any appetite
- Weight loss
- Very pale
- Listless eyes
- Sweating a lot at night
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling very tired
How common is TB?
Experts believe that one third of the world population is infected with M. tuberculosis. New infections occur at a rate of one per second. In 2007, about 13.7 million chronic cases were active globally. In 2010, about 8.8 million new cases developed and nearly 1.5 million people died from the disease, most of them in developing countries. The number of tuberculosis cases has been decreasing since 2006, and new cases have decreased since 2002.
Tuberculosis does not happen at the same rate around the world. About eighty percent of the population in many Asian and African countries test positive for TB, but only five to ten percent of people in the United States do.
Tuberculosis Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.