Big tuberculosis (TB) scare swept the media in July and left patients all over the country scared of infection, whether or not they were in areas prone to exposure.
As it turned out, a small sample of frozen tuberculosis was reportedly released by accident at John Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, MD. However, due to the severity of TB’s potential effects, the hospital took precautionary measures, evacuating everyone from the buildings.
John Hopkins Executive Vice Dean, Landon King, reported zero to anyone involved as on July 5, 2018.
Still, the scare spread rapidly across the country and re-engaged many patients’ awareness of the dangers of active tuberculosis.
What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease that is caused by the growth of tubercles (nodules) in the tissues. Tuberculosis commonly generates in the tissues of lungs.
Is tuberculosis still present?
Tuberculosis is still present, despite its lack of presence in the media (thanks largely to cases being minimal in the USA). However, the disease infects a quarter of the world’s population, in some countries more than others, in homeless communities, in people with HIV and in communities prom to malnutrition, diabetes and weak immune systems.
As recently as 2016, active TB infected 10.4 million people in the world, leading to fatalities in 1.7 million of them.
Is there tuberculosis in the U.S.?
In the United States, only 9,000 cases of TB are reported annually. Of the tuberculosis cases in the U.S. in 2016, 528 lead to fatality.
Is tuberculosis fatal?
While medical intervention can help fight tuberculosis when introduced at the right time, it leads to death in 45% of patients (without HIV) if left untreated. When a young teenage boy died of Tuberculosis in the spring of 2018, people were stunned not only at his death, but at the contraction of tuberculosis in such a developed country.
How many people have tuberculosis?
A quarter of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis, but only about ten percent will end up with active tuberculosis.
How does tuberculosis become active?
Tuberculosis spreads between people, and most infected patients live with what is called (and commonly overlooked) as latent tuberculosis, meaning it is not actively disrupting their body’s function. As a person with latent tuberculosis faces prolonged malnutrition, diabetes, HIV or any experiences that lead to immunosuppression, tuberculosis can wake and become threatening.
Take precautions with weak immune systems
More than HIV weakens the immune system. Illness, recovery, surgery, intensive therapies such as chemo and even drastic lifestyle changes can hinder the immune system, unrolling the carpet for TB to become active. If you are heading into a scenario where your immune system might become compromised or you know it is functioning poorly now, it is imperative to see a medical professional to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
What is the U.S. doing to prevent tuberculosis?
Congress is trying to pass a 2019 federal budget that allocates $302 million to the U.S. Agency for International Developments tuberculosis efforts. The extra budget allows for research and equipment (among other things) that provide physicians the education and testing facilities necessary to diagnose tuberculosis early on, saving the lives of patients and the likely dozen people they will infect throughout the year if left untreated.
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