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Myths About Tuberculosis and How to Bust Them

For 2022's World TB Day, organizations and communities from all around the world are gearing up to take measures against Tuberculosis (TB). TB is the second most common cause of death from a single infectious pathogen, right behind COVID-19 in 2020. [1] In 2019, an estimated 205,000 children died of tuberculosis. According to recent TB data, 1.5 million persons died from tuberculosis in 2020. [2] By 2021, the number of incidents per year had dropped by about 2% annually. [1] The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have had an impact on reported tuberculosis incidence in numerous ways, including a mix of TB under-diagnosis and real incidence reduction.





TB is a contagious disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). Tuberculosis affects the lungs in most cases, but it can also affect other regions of the body. The majority of infections are asymptomatic, which is known as latent tuberculosis. Around 10% of latent infections advance to active illness, which kills around half of the individuals if left untreated. Chronic cough with bloody mucus, fever, night sweats, and weight loss are common symptoms of active tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is transferred via air by patients who have active TB by coughing, spitting, speaking, or sneezing. People who have latent tuberculosis do not transmit the disease. People with HIV/AIDS and smokers are more likely to get an active infection. [1]

Chest X-rays, microscopic examination and culture of bodily fluids, are used to diagnose active tuberculosis. The tuberculin skin test (TST) or blood tests are used to diagnose latent tuberculosis. Screening persons at high risk, early diagnosis and

treatment of cases, and vaccination with the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine are all part of TB prevention. [1]

Countries such as India, Pakistan, China, the Philippines, Nigeria and South Africa are among the 30 high TB-burden countries. Multiple factors such as an absence of adequate policy-making, poor resource allocation, lack of public awareness, a high poverty index, and others contribute to TB being endemic in many countries. [2]

In this essay, some common myths associated with TB will be discussed and debunked; in an effort to impart knowledge and awareness among the masses so that they may realize the gravity of the public health crisis TB gives rise to, take necessary measures for diagnosis and treatment, and also help others in actively taking part to reduce the spread of disease. The first myth is that there is no cure for TB. In olden times, people suffering from TB were committed to sanitoria, but even with the fresh air and absence of labour, 50% of the infected expired within 5 years. [3] The stigma associated with the disease in the past resulted in people avoiding disclosing their illness and not saying steadfast in their treatment. TB medication was developed in the early 1950s, and people need to stick to their medication regime in order to fully recover.

The second is that TB is genetic. In earlier times, women were accused of witchcraft when someone around them contracted TB, and sometimes entire families were ostracized in small communities. [4] TB is an infectious disease, and the family members often developed the illness because they were the ones most in contact with the patient. However, it does not mean that everyone will be infected. Not all types of TB are infectious.

The third is that the spread of TB is rapid. While TB is infectious, it is not spread in a matter of seconds. It is not contracted via sharing cutlery, hugging etc. TB is spread when a person with active infection sneezes, coughs, spits etc. People need to be exposed to air-borne particles for a considerable amount of time in order to acquire the disease. Learning about how to care properly for a sufferer includes ways to support them while still maintaining proper distance.

One widespread misconception is that TB only affects people living in deplorable conditions. TB can affect anyone. This myth only stigmatizes people in poverty and denies them affordable access to good health services, propagating the unequal class gap. Finally, A large number of people still believe that TB symptoms are easy to spot and that they’ll visit the hospital when they see them. This is wrong because even though active TB presents with common symptoms such as respiratory problems, weight loss, sweats, fevers etc. in more than half of the cases there are no symptoms to observe. Myths and misconceptions about TB can boost efforts to reduce the stigmatization of those who are infected with or affected by the disease. Understanding the factors that contribute to myths and misconceptions is critical for enhancing national control and prevention efforts. Ending TB will necessitate a two-pronged approach: maintaining and reinforcing current TB control objectives while also stepping up

efforts to detect and treat latent TB infection, particularly in groups at higher risk of the disease.

REFERENCES:-

  1. Tuberculosis - Wikipedia

  2. TB statistics for 2020 - including high burden countries - TBFacts

  3. Addressing the Challenges of Tuberculosis: A Brief Historical Account (nih.gov)

  4. Stigma and myths - TB Alert



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