Tuberculosis is a bacteria that attacks the lungs. The disease is capable of attacking other parts of the body such as the brain, spine, and kidney. Tuberculosis is extremely contagious and spreads from person to person through the air. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tuberculosis cases in the U.S have rose for the first time since 1992. There have been spotting of the disease in 29 different states including the District of Columbia (DC). Tuberculosis is known as the "# 1 infectious killer" in the world.
The CDC reports that "after two decades of declining
incidence, progress towards TB elimination in the United States
appears to have stalled".
Tuberculosis rises can be contributed by the decrease in funds
and budget cuts in health centers that usually
treat the disease in different states.
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Persistent coughing over a 3 week period
- Chest pains
- Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
Around the world, people are unknowingly carrying Tuberculosis since it is commonly mistaken as pneumonia and can show symptoms of a regular fever. Many may not know that they have the disease until it is too late. In some cases, the disease can be spread throughout a household before diagnosis has taken place. It is also possible to carry the Tuberculosis disease without showing any symptoms.Tuberculosis Specialist discusses reasons for high TB rates in Maryland
The increase in Tuberculosis has raised Maryland's ranking as 13th out of 50 states involved in TB rising rates. This means that Tuberculosis cases are rising fairly quickly in Maryland. Maryland has also reported that 73.86% of TB cases are occurring in foreign-born persons. With the rising of immigrants moving to the United States, more cases of Tuberculosis are being seen since the disease can be brought from countries overseas.
How Tuberculosis can spread
The disease can be spread through many ways...
- Sharing toothbrushes
- Not washing your hands
- Sharing food or drinks
- Shaking someone's hand
Get Tested for Tuberculosis
Since Tuberculosis rates are rapidly rising, it is important to get tested for the disease. Those test include..
- PPD (TB Skin) Test
- QuantiFERON (TB Blood) test
- Sputum test
If you test positive for any of these tests, it is possible that you are carrying an inactive Tuberculosis bacteria or currently have active TB.
Pictured: QuantiFERON TB Blood Test
Most cases of TB are curable but it is possible to have a drug-resistant type of Tuberculosis that is harder to cure. When Tuberculosis becomes drug-resistant, the TB bacteria will not be able to be treated by the usual antibiotics prescribed when someone has TB. Having a drug-resistant type of TB will not stop the disease from spreading.
According to the World Health Organization, there were 9 million new tuberculosis cases and nearly 1.5 million fatalities recorded in 2013 despite the global decrease of the disease.