Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that claims many lives every year and is particularly prevalent in South Africa. March is TB Awareness Month. Despite being treatable, TB is still a major cause of death around the world.
Here’s what you should know about it:
- What is TB?
- TB is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium.
- Most of us are aware that the disease attacks the lungs, but it can attack almost every part of the body.
- TB is transmitted from person to person in the air, often via coughing and sneezing.
- It is often spread in poorly ventilated areas between family members, living partners, colleagues and close friends because of the proximity and amount of time these people spend together.
- Knowing someone close to you who has TB doesn’t necessarily mean that you will also get it.
- Who is most at risk of TB?
- Anyone can get TB, irrespective of their income or demographics. However, some people are more vulnerable to TB than others.
- The elderly or very young, people with compromised or weak immune systems (like people who are HIV-positive) and those who spend long periods of time near others with TB are more at risk.
- What are the symptoms of TB?
- TB often presents as a combination of symptoms.
- These symptoms can be mild for months and then worsen, they include a persistent cough, phlegm and other mucous, chest pains, fatigue, weight loss, fever, night sweats and coughing blood.
- TB is treatable, and many have been cured of the disease by taking the right medication in the correct way.
- If you begin to show any of the symptoms and are concerned that you may have been exposed to TB, seek medical advice.
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