The low down on TB
12:27 (GMT+2), Thu, 24 May 2012
South Africa is among the top five countries with the highest TB incidence and prevalence. In 2010 there were approximately 400, 000 - 590, 000 new TB cases in South Africa. In 2010 there were approximately 25, 000 - 38,000 TB-related deaths in South Africa. The number of people in South Africa living with HIV who also have TB is between 300, 000 and 350,000. With this in mind, it’s therefore very important to learn about this illness in order to protect yourself, and your children from this disease.
Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB mainly affects the lungs (pulmonary TB) but can also affect other parts of the body (extra-pulmonary TB). TB bacteria are expelled in airborne fluid droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or exhales. Be sure to teach your young ones to always cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, and to stay clear of children who may be sick. TB is also one of approximately 20 opportunistic infections that are associated with HIV. Extra-pulmonary TB is an AIDS-defining illness.
TB symptoms include a persistent cough lasting longer than two weeks that may (or may not) contain blood, unexplained weight loss, drenching night sweats, loss of appetite, chest pain and tiredness. If anyone in your family has these symptoms or anything similar to these, consult with your doctor immediately.
Treatment for TB consists of four drugs which are active against TB: At the initiation or intensive phase of treatment, four drugs (isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol) are taken for the first two months. If the initiation phase of treatment is successful the patient progresses to the continuation phase taking two drugs (isoniazid and rifampicin) for four months (or longer). The entire course of TB medication must be taken properly for the full length of time prescribed by the healthcare worker or the TB could become drug resistant.
For more information on Tuberculosis visit www.tbonline.info
or call the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on +27 11 386 6000
Stats SA (2009) Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2009: Findings from death notification
TB Day Newsletter. South African National AIDS Commission. March 2011. (www.sanac.org.za/files/uploaded/6996_Newsletter_TB%20Day_Mar28_ALL.pdf)
WHO TB/HIV Facts 2011
WHO (2011) Global Tuberculosis Control report