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BBC reported that tuberculosis rates in England had gone down by one-third in six years. It is currently at its lowest level in 35 years.
Experts attributed the drop to improved diagnosis, treatment, and awareness. Public Health England data said there was a 38 percent drop since 2012. In 2017 alone, there was a 9.3 percent decline in cases.
The highest rate of TB
Despite the impressive improvement, BBC reported that England still has one of the highest rates of TB in western Europe with only under 5,200 affected in 2017. TB remains one of the leading causes of death globally.
PHE released the data to coincide with World TB Day on March 24. The World Health Organization launched a campaign, Light up the World for TB, wherein building and landmarks around the world would light up in red across the March 23-25 weekend.
Not a Victorian disease
Dr. Sarah Anderson, the head of the National TB Office at Public Health England, noted that some people think that TB is a Victorian disease which is no longer a problem in England. However, in fact, it still affects more than 5,000 people a year, and there is still a lot to do with the goal to eliminate TB.
She encouraged everyone to join the fight to confine TB to history. Anderson noted that World TB Day is an opportunity for people everywhere to be informed about TB, educate others, and to push governments to take action. The global movement is a powerful statement and shows solidarity for people who have been affected with TB.
Highest TB burden
A WHO report said that India has the highest burden of TB with 2.76 million cases in the country. But a bigger number of 10.4 million people were affected by TB, and 1.7 million people died.
The Health Site noted that more than 95 percent of TB-related deaths happened in low- and middle-income countries. Around 1 million children became sick because of TB and 250,000 children died in 2016. Among HIV-positive people, TB is a major cause of death. It accounted for 40 percent of TB-related deaths in 2016.
According to Dr. Arvind Kate, a chest physician and pulmonologist at Zen Hospital in Mumbai, TB is a potentially serious contagious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. Except for the nails and the hair, the bacterial infection can affect almost all parts of the body.
A person can get infected with the bacterium by inhaling it which is one reason why TB first affects the lungs. He warned that if the infection is not treated on time, it can spread to other parts of the body.
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Kate said that tuberculosis is classified into types. These are pulmonary tuberculosis and extrapulmonary tuberculosis. Because TB is an airborne disease, he said that the lungs are the most vulnerable organ to be affected. When the infection remains in the lungs and remains restricted, it is called pulmonary tuberculosis. If the infection spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, bones, liver, intestines, and spine, it is extrapulmonary TB. But most cases of TB reported are of lungs, lymph nodes, or stomach.
TB infection has no bias and can affect anybody regardless of age, gender, color, and ethnicity. But in women, genital TB is a cause of concern because if a woman is infected with TB early in her life, her ovaries, uterus, or fallopian tubules are affected. Genital TB can be a reason for female infertility too, although such cases are rare.
It is possible to get a TB infection the second time even if one had an infection before and completed the full course of treatment. But when a person gets a TB infection for the second time, it is necessary to perform a detailed diagnosis and know what went wrong and where. It is important to check if the representation of the TB infection the second time is because of multi-drug resistant TB as it returned despite completing the treatment.
DNA reported that the battle against TB is a very expensive one. To treat one TB patient, it could cost from RS 2 t0 5 Lakhs and can take years to cure.
To worsen matters, TB disproportionately affects people from lower-income communities. If it is airborne, TB is one of the most infectious ailments and can spread easily during an event of sneezing, coughing, over even talking. During the course of the disease, one person can infect a minimum of four people.
TB treatment is a long-drawn process. The first line of treatment of TB involves taking a combination drugs daily over six months. The treatment regime is difficult to stick with because the symptoms disappear within the first month of the treatment. It explains why only 30 percent of the patients complete the treatment.
[researchpaper 리서치페이퍼=Vittorio Hernandez 기자]