World Tuberculosis (TB) Day is observed on March 24 every year to raise public awareness about this infectious disease. Also, it seeks to spread information about the “devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic“.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the theme of World TB Day 2022 is ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives’ and “conveys the urgent need to invest resources to ramp up the fight against TB and achieve the commitments to end TB made by global leaders”.

Tuberculosis (TB) is among the oldest infectious diseases and is found in every country around the world. 10 million people get sick with TB each year and it accounts for more than 1.4 million deaths, even though it is preventable and curable. TB control efforts have been disrupted in the country due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Efforts must begin now to ensure that the World Health Organizations ‘End TB Strategy’ remains a global and national priority,” LM Singh, India MD, Vital Strategies said.

Tuberculosis cases in India. (Designed by Abhishek Mitra)

Symptoms

According to Dr Abhilasha Kochhar, Senior Microbiologist, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd, one should get alarmed and get in touch with their physicians on experiencing these symptoms.

For pulmonary TB

*Cough for more than three weeks with or without sputum production
*Coughing blood in sputum
*Low-grade fever
*Easily fatigued
*Chest pain
*Loss of appetite
*Unexplained weight loss of more than 5 per cent of your body weight in six months

For extrapulmonary TB

In extrapulmonary TB, any of the above symptoms along with the following symptoms are system-specific.

Tuberculosis, coughing Cough for more than 3 weeks with or without sputum production is one of the primary symptoms of TB. (File photo)

*Dull lower abdominal pain (for Gastrointestinal TB)
*Severe headache and neck rigidity (TB meningitis)
*Unhealing wound (soft tissue TB)
*Severe back pain, Trouble moving or walking (Bone TB)
*Swelling in neck nodes(Lymph node TB)
*Urinary infection sterile for common causative agents of UTI, Abnormal menstrual cycle in females, infertility in both males and females (genitourinary TB)

Preventive measures

Dr Kochhar shared the actions required to prevent the disease.

*Our primary immunization program offers BCG vaccination at birth or as early as possible till one year of age.
*Malnourishment and stress are risk factors for TB, so eat well, sleep well.
*Good coughing and sneezing etiquette. Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing
*Do not spit outdoors. Use a basin to spit.
*People living with TB infected patients should wear masks, ensure the patient also wears the mask.

According to Singh, we must also address tobacco consumption as the “burden of death and disease from tobacco consumption and TB present a significant public health problem in India. Together they are responsible for extraordinary loss of life, poor health, and dire economic burden.”

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