Tuberculosis: Measures to Overcome the Disease

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease affecting the lungs. A tuberculosis infection is normally accompanied by extreme inflammatory response. Once infected, the body’s immune system, responds rapidly by activating polymorph nuclear and mononuclear phagocytes stirring up of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

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A bacterium called mycobacterium tuberculosis is known to cause tuberculosis. The disease can affect other body parts and organs apart from the lungs. The mode of transmission of TB from one person to another is through breathing in of infected droplets. The tuberculosis causing bacteria reaches the air through the saliva, cough, or sneeze from an infected individual. In a single cough, an infected person can release more than 40,000 droplets. The TB causing pathogens can survive in these droplets for several weeks. A frequent contact with mycobacterium tuberculosis presents a higher risk of infection. Therefore, people living in areas with high tuberculosis prevalence have higher chances of contracting the disease. Moreover, the environmental settings can affect the spread of tuberculosis. The environmental settings, accelerating the spread of TB comprise slums, poverty-stricken areas and other marginal residents. These areas are at a risk because they are medically underserved and poorly ventilated.

TB can be treated using antibiotics. However, its treatment is a gruesome task. The unusual biological and chemical structure of the pathogen’s cell wall renders many antibiotics futile. The most effective antibiotics currently in use are isoniazid and rifampicin. Both antibiotics require prolonged treatment to realise effective results. For a new TB infection, a combination of rifampin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide and ethambutol is administered for the first two months. In the last two months, treatment is administered using isionazid (Kaufmann, 2003). If the disease recurs, testing should be done to determine the most effective antibiotics. In case of a drug resistant infection, treatment should be administered using four types of successful antibiotics for 18 to 24 months. TB patients are strongly advised to take their medication as prescribed by a physician. The failure to follow the prescription may result in a drug resistant TB. Drug resistant TB is often difficult to treat and it is a major health setback worldwide. Individuals exhibiting symptoms of the drug resistant TB should be isolated and put under special care. In addition, they should be prohibited from leaving the vicinity before three weeks of treatment. Patients opting for an alternative treatment are advised to combine their alternative therapies with the prescribed medications since alternative treatments alone have proved to be ineffective.

TB is a preventable disease. There are several methods used to prevent its spread. First, every infant should be vaccinated as required by the World Health Organization. Through vaccination, infants are given Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), which provides effective protection against respiratory diseases. However, this vaccine is only effective for the first 9 years after which the immunity declines. Furthermore, the vaccine has been found to register a false positive on the skin test. Consequently, timely treatment has been found to be the most effective method of preventing the spread of tuberculosis. Timely treatment breaks the active TB cycle. In public places, properly maintained ventilation is required to limit the concentration of mycobacterium tuberculosis. In addition, observing a proper diet can reduce the chances of contracting TB. This is because a proper diet boosts the body’s immune system. Conversely, with an increase in HIV infections, several prevention methods have proved futile since HIV has presented multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis strains.

The failure to control TB has several adverse effects. Its spread would be dramatic and its ultimate effects might be fatal. In developing countries were the spread of the disease is sometimes due to ineffective control, TB has been reported to cause a significant number of deaths in women and people infected with HIV and AIDS (Hammett, 1998). This is due the fact that women in these countries have ill health and are prone to malnutrition compared to men. If treatment is not administered to those infected, several complications arise. TB will begin to spread through the bloodstreams infecting other body organs. As a result, the patient will experience several complications several complications such as colossal coughing of blood and pneumothorax, which may eventually lead to death. For a country, uncontrolled spread of TB means that more state resources will be spent on treating the disease. Since TB treatment is expensive, this would affect negatively on the country’s economy.

To combat the spread of TB at the community level, several health promotions and wellness strategies have been spearheaded by the health sector. In the US, the public health sector has advocated for social progress, better housing, ventilation, and nutrition, and reduction of overcrowding. These steps together with the isolation of infected people have resulted in reduce TB infection in the last decade. Environmental measures have also helped to lessen the spread of the disease by controlling exposure to TB pathogens. Community vaccinations have also contributed significantly in the mitigation process. In addition, the health sector has sponsored several community programs aimed at educating communities on several infectious diseases including TB. In these campaigns, community members are educated on the symptoms of TB, prevention, and treatment methods, and other TB related issues. Through the wellness strategies, efforts have been put to identify the major barriers to wellness. These barriers include smoking and immorality (Broekmans, 2005). Through smoking, one puts himself or herself at a greater risk of contracting TB. Moreover, through immorality one can contract HIV hence increasing the chance of contracting TB. Therefore, such habits should be avoided.

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Broekmans, J., Caines, K., & Paluzzi, J. E. (2005). Investing in strategies to reverse the global incidence of TB. London: Earthscan

Kaufmann, S. H., & Hahn, H. (2003). Mycobacteria and TB. Basel: Karger.

Hammett, T. M. (1998). Public health/corrections collaborations: prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, STDs, and TB. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.

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