Tuberculosis, often referred to as TB, is an air-borne infection that attacks the lungs. It can develop into a series of other infections that affect the central nervous system, the lymphatic system, the genitourinary system, and bones and joints. Roughly one-third of the world's population is currently infected with TB, especially among populations already coping with AIDS and other illnesses that affect the immune system. Left untreated, results in death more than 50% of the time. In 2007, Wyoming reported two new cases of tuberculosis.
Currently, there are vaccines that can help prevent vulnerability to the disease in children, but there are no vaccines that provide reliable protection for adults. Nevertheless, there are a number of precautions that can greatly reduce the risk of exposure. Because the bacterium that causes tuberculosis is air-borne, it is important that people avoid unprotected coughing, sneezing or spitting. It is also important to avoid sexual contact with anyone who has or may have been exposed to the illness.
Symptoms: Tuberculosis ˆ Back To Top
Like many illnesses, latent tuberculosis is frequently asymptomatic until it has progresses to active status. Once this happens, symptoms include chronic cough and chest pain, coughing up blood, fever, night sweats, weight loss and a tendency to tire very easily. Diagnosis can be difficult, and in addition to a clinical sample of sputum, may also require a complete medical history, physical exam, chest x-ray and other tests.
Treatment: Tuberculosis ˆ Back To Top
Tuberculosis is easier to prevent than it is to treat. Children are often vaccinated at an early age, but a reliable vaccine for adults has yet to be developed. Those who contract tuberculosis often require prescription antibiotics for anywhere from six to 24 months in order to kill the bacterium, but antibiotic resistance is sometimes a problem. Individuals under treatment are often quarantined until the initial stage of treatment has been completed.