Communicable Diseases

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a contagious disease affecting lungs, and might affect the kidneys, spinal cord and brain. It is caused by bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis, transmitting through coughing and sneezing from one person to another.
TB bacteria are transmitted from the patient through droplets when sneezing, coughing or spitting. The disease can be transmitted also through the direct contact with the patient or breathing a bacteria-polluted air stream.
The TB is not transmitted through:
  • Shaking hands
  • Eating or drinking with others
  • Kissing
  • Using toilets 
There are two types of TB:
  • The body might carry the TB bacteria, without the onset of any symptoms. However, the bacteria still take the “latent” form within the body, which is non-contagious. By the time, though, it might turn to the “active” case.
  • The second form of TB that could affect people is the active TB, the infection of which entails the onset of TB symptoms, and it can be transmitted from the patient to others. Symptoms appear several weeks after infection, and they might not appear until after months or even years.
  • Continuous cough (lasting for 3 weeks or more)
  • Coughing up of blood (bloody mucus)
  • Chest pain during breathing or coughing
  • Loss of weight and appetite
  • Physical inactivity
  • Fever
  • Sweat, particularly at nighttime
  • Bloody urine (in case the kidneys are affected).
  • Back pain (in case the spleen is affected).
People at a higher risk of TB:
  • Those affected with the immunodeficiency virus and HIV/AIDS
  • Diabetics
  • Cancer patients who receive chemotherapy treatment
  • People who underwent an organ transplant surgery and taking immunosuppressive drugs
  • Those taking some drugs which treat rheumatism and psoriasis
  • People existing in or travelling to areas abound with tuberculosis cases, such as South Africa, India, China, Mexico, and some East Asia states.
  • Being in a company of a TB- affected person on a daily basis, so you should make a point of wearing a face mask and wash hands repeatedly when touching the personal items of the affected.
The possibly-affected person undergoes two examinations:
  • Skin test: The TB skin test is performed by injecting a small amount of fluid (called tuberculin) into the skin in the lower part of the arm. A person given the tuberculin skin test must return within two to three days to monitor any reaction on the arm. The health care worker will look for a raised, hard area or swelling, and if present, he measures its size. The test is considered positive if the size is ≥ 10Mm. 


  • TB blood tests: TB blood tests (also called interferon-gamma release assays or IGRAs) measure how the immune system reacts to the bacteria that cause TB.

If such tests were found positive, other examinations would be conducted to measure the disease activity. Such examinations include:

  • Clinical examination (symptoms and signs)
  • Chest radiograph (X-ray)
  • Sputum examination
  • Medical history of the family
Treating TB takes a long period ranging from 6 to 9 months.
Drugs used for TB treatment:
  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampin
  • Ethambutol
  • Pyrazinamide
After a few weeks of medications, TB will not be infectious and you may feel better. But you must keep taking the medication for the period recommended by your physician.
Drug-Resistant TB:
Drug-resistant TB occurs when the patient does not take drugs regularly or stops them ahead of time.
Prevention against TB:
The person with active tuberculosis is recommended to do the following:
  • Staying at home or a special room; especially in the first weeks of infection
  • Airing the room
  • Covering the mouth and nose when speaking, sneezing, and coughing
  • Putting on a mask when moving around or existing with other people
  • Taking the medication on time till the end of the medication period
Babies should take the TB vaccine Bacillius Calmette Guerin (BCG) at birth.
Not treating TB exposes the person to many complications; it may affect other parts of the body, such as bones, brain, kidney, liver and heart.
Last Update : 04 March 2018 10:29 AM
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