To start with, tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacterium. TB typically affects lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. It is spread through the air when infected people cough, sneeze, or have their respiratory fluids transmitted through the air. Classic symptoms include a chronic cough lasting more than two weeks, fever, chills, night sweats, poor appetite and weight loss.
Among the strategies emphasized at St Theresa Mission Hospital-Kiirua Comprehensive Care Clinic (CCC) and Chest Clinic; are fast tracking of suspicious cases like persistent coughs and sending them for sputum examination through microscopy and gene expert, screening the social contacts of TB patients as well as prioritizing Chest X-Rays for those suspected to be with TB. The reason of screening social contacts is that a person with TB could end up infecting 10-15 people within a year.
TB is diagnosed through simple and cheap evaluation tests which basically can be found in rudimentary facilities across the county. The emphasize is having anybody with close contact to a smear positive TB patient being screened. A definitive diagnosis of TB is by identifying mycobacterium tuberculosis in clinical sample e.g. sputum, pus or a tissue biopsy.
Prevention relies on screening programs and vaccination with Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine given to infants. Many TB strains are resistant to drugs. People with active TB must take several types of medication for many months depending on the type of TB, to eradicate the infection. To prevent the development of resistance to some of the TB drugs, one has to comply with full course of treatment.
- Do you have a cough lasting for more than two weeks?
- Are you sweating a lot at night?
- Are you staying with someone taking TB drugs?
- Do you have any other ill health? Seek medical attention.