TB patients need to strictly follow physician’s instructions to guarantee full recovery



TB is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are dispersed into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, talks or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

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However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. People who are not sick have what is called latent TB infection. People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. But, some people with latent TB infection go on to get TB disease.

People with active TB disease can be treated if they seek medical help. People with latent TB infection can take medicine so that they will not develop active TB disease.

The Collective Prevention Service (CPS), a public health agency of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, says that public health officials must focus their resources on finding exposed persons who are more likely to be infected or to become ill with TB disease.

CPS’s surveillance team reviewed relevant epidemiologic and other scientific data to conduct contact investigations in order to minimize any spread of the condition.

The index case is the person diagnosed by a physician with TB. The index case’s close contact are followed up and interviewed by the surveillance team to determine if they may be infected. If they are determined to be at risk, they are referred for additional testing such as mantoux testing and chest x-ray.

Close exposure or exposure among particularly vulnerable populations may be more at risk for TB disease.

For 2011 CPS received reports and followed up on two TB cases, one case in November, a 21-year old male, and a 30-year old female in September.

It is recommended that persons diagnosed with TB as well as those who have close contact with the infected person are asked to strictly follow their medical treatment and in the latter case, to follow-up with their family physician for the results of the mantoux tuberculin skin test to determine further medical treatment and handling.

TB disease can be treated by taking several medications for six to nine months. It is very important for persons to take these medications as prescribed. Not adhering to the scheduled drug regime could make the bacteria resistant and hence, a person’s recovery time could be longer. If a person stops taking the medications too soon, they also risk becoming sick again.

At all times to avoid putting others at risk, persons should exercise cough hygienic practices – "Cover your Cough."

Difference between Latent TB Infection and Active TB Disease

A Person with Latent TB Infection

A Person with Active TB Disease

• Has no symptoms

• Has symptoms that may include:

– a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer

– pain in the chest

– coughing up blood or sputum

– weakness or fatigue

– weight loss

– no appetite

– chills

– fever

– sweating at night

• Does not feel sick

• Usually feels sick

• Cannot spread TB bacteria to others

• May spread TB bacteria to others

• Usually has a positive skin test.

• Usually has a positive skin test.

• Has a normal chest x-ray and a negative sputum smear

• May have an abnormal chest x-ray, or positive sputum smear or culture

• Should consider treatment for latent TB infection to prevent active TB disease

• Needs treatment for active TB disease