The definition of how Tuberculosis (TB) is spread can easily cause fear. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states TB is a disease; that part is expected. However, the CDC also says it is spread in the air from person to person, and that can be a little scary. The description goes on to state without proper treatment it can be fatal. If this explanation is read on a crowded train, the explanation might make a person see if they can hold their breath until the next stop. While waiting for the doors to open, one could be figuring out how to strategically get to the closest location that carries surgical masks; this might be the other main thought.
Reading a little further down one’s fear may dissipate to some extent. TB does spread from person to person through the air, but needs the assistance of a cough, sneeze, speaking or singing from the infected person. It is good to remember it is not every single person who pushes air out of his or her mouth who can spread the disease. Tuberculosis usually affects the brain, lungs and the spine. Pulmonary Tuberculosis comes from the bacteria called Mycobacterium.
To provide more clarity, acts like shaking hands, sharing food, beverages and toothbrushes; touching toilet seats or bed linens, or kissing does not spread TB. There are people who have the infection and not the disease; they are carriers and do not display symptoms. The reason for the distinction, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a body may carry the disease, but a strong immune system can usually prevent one from getting sick. In this state, it is not contagious. Mayo continues by stating it is assumed that approximately one-third of the planet’s population is carrying latent TB.
If someone is infected with the disease, some of the symptoms may be chest pain, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, night sweats, or fatigue. In addition, they may have a very bad cough that persists at least thee weeks or longer. The cough may be accompanied by blood or sputum, which is phlegm coming from deep inside one’s lungs.
It is advised that the following people get tested:
- One who is HIV positive and may have been exposed to the disease.
- One who experiences symptoms.
- A user of illegal drugs.
- One from a country known for having a lot of TB cases.
- Workers or residents of homeless shelters, prison, jail, migrant farm camps or nursing homes.
- A person who has spent time around a person who may be infected.
Strong immune systems do not usually exist in the bodies of the elderly and infants. For that reason they are at a higher risk of being infected. Also, a person who is a latent carrier can become an active carrier who is contagious. It is always important to be careful of catching a disease from another. These days, with so many infections out there, fear can cloud a person’s judgment. In the winter there is a higher tendency for one to catch a cold that can come across as Tuberculosis, so it is always best to be safe and go to the doctor.
On the other hand, it is the holidays and this is the time of sharing and happiness, so remember to enjoy life.
By Dada Ra