Monday, February 20, 2012
TB ... Some Basic Facts
The WHO estimate that 1 person every second is infected with tuberculosis (TB). Of those, about 5 - 10% will develop into full blown active TB. TB is not spread evenly around the world, but mostly occurs in developing countries where poverty, overcrowding and malnutrition are common.
Types of TB
Regular TB is the most common type of TB. This is effectively treated by DOTs programs. Some patients are resistant to two of the most effective DOTs drugs and have a strain of TB known as Multi Drug Resistant (MDR) TB. These patients are much harder to treat. They require a drug program tailor made for their own unique needs. Resistance to 3 or more of the DOTs drugs is known as XDR and is very difficult to treat. Totally Drug Resistant TB (TDR) means a person is resistant to all known TB drugs. There is no cure for that. More than 50% of TB cases left untreated will result in death.
Transmission of TB
TB is airborne. This means when people with active TB cough, spit, sneeze they send infectious droplets into the air. A single sneeze could release up to 40,000 droplets - each one infectious. Constant exposure to someone with TB puts a person at high risk of catching it.
Treatment depends on the type of the TB that the patient has. Patients are generally isolated so they do not transmit the disease and then take medication for several years. Once a patient converts to negative status, they need to maintain that status for 18 months - 2 years to be cured.
Some of our EB patients have been chronic and so have taken a long time to convert to negative. The program has been tweaked by Dr Sung (EB's TB Specialist) and conversions are happening quicker which means the entire treatment time is shorter.