Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body such as the kidneys, spine, and brain. TB is spread through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
TB is a serious health concern, with an estimated 10 million cases and 1.4 million deaths worldwide in 2019. TB is more common in low- and middle-income countries, but it can occur anywhere. People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or malnutrition, are at greater risk of developing active TB disease.
Symptoms of TB include coughing that lasts for more than three weeks, chest pain, coughing up blood, fatigue, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. TB can be diagnosed through a variety of tests, including a chest X-ray, sputum culture, and a tuberculin skin test.
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TB can be treated with a combination of antibiotics, usually taken for six to nine months. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics to ensure that the infection is completely eradicated. People with active TB should take precautions to avoid spreading the infection to others, such as wearing a face mask and avoiding close contact with others.
Prevention of TB includes vaccination with the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, which is recommended in countries where TB is common. Other measures to prevent TB include improving living conditions, promoting good nutrition, and addressing social determinants of health.