March 24 – World Tuberculosis Day

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World Tuberculosis Day is a day designed to raise public awareness of the issue of tuberculosis – a disease which, while treatable, remains an epidemic  in many places. It also commemorates this date in 1882 when scientist Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered what caused the disease; a breakthrough which led the way to easier diagnosis and treatment. The disease is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacteria that divides comparatively slowly, dividing every 16 to 20 hours but can stay in a dry state for weeks and can withstand weak disinfectants. This bacteria normally attacks the victims lungs and results in chronic cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss and other fun things like that. In some cases, the infection then spreads outside the lungs and causes the disease throughout the body. 
This disease is infectious and easily passed from person to person if someone with active TB coughs, sneezes, sings or (curiously) laughs.

It was once the cause of many deaths in western countries but we now have the medication available to effectively treat patients and to vaccinate those at risk and it is no longer the problem it once was. Well, not here in our comfortable developed nations. 
Over 95% of cases and deaths of tuberculosis occur in developing countries throughout the world. In 2011, 1.4 million people died as a result of the disease. In 2010, around 10 million children were orphaned as a result of the disease.  This unbalanced distribution of tuberculosis is due to compromised immunity in developing countries, largely due to high rates of HIV; having HIV makes you a lot more susceptible to the disease.

Hopefully, that has made you more aware. It made me a little less ignorant, at least

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~ Darcie Rae

Info-links:
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs104/en/

http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Tuberculosis_(TB)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuberculosis
http://www.stoptb.org/events/world_tb_day/

 

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