What you can do about Tuberculosis!

Posted on March 24, 2011


Today is World TB day! Here is some important information to keep you updated on tuberculosis.


To most developed countries, tuberculosis (TB) may seem like a disease of the past. However, the truth is that TB is still very much a prevalent illness. If we fail to step up action today, about 40 million people will become ill with TB and at least eight million will die unnecessarily between now and 2015 (Stoptb.org).


What exactly is TB?


TB is a bacterial infection caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but they can also damage other parts of the body. TB spreads through the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes or talks.


However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria falls sick. People who are infected but not sick have what is called latent TB infection. People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others. But, some people with latent TB infection go on to get TB disease.


TB bacteria become active if the immune system is weak. The active bacteria then grow in the body and cause active TB disease. The bacteria attack the body and destroy tissue. Some people develop active TB disease soon after becoming infected (within weeks), other people may get sick years later.


What are the symptoms?


A person with latent TB infection will have no symptoms. A person with active TB disease may have any, all or none of the following symptoms:


  • A persistent cough

  • Constant fatigue

  • Weight loss

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fever

  • Coughing up blood

  • Night sweats


If not treated properly, TB can be deadly. You can usually cure active TB by taking several medicines for a long period of time. People with latent TB can take medicine so that they do not develop active TB.


If you believe you may have been exposed call your health care provider right away. If you need help finding a doctor or more information on TB call the Mayor’s Health Line at 617-534-5050. You can also take a look at the National Library of Medicine for more resources.


Even if you do not believe you have TB, here are ways in which you can help stop tuberculosis.


Spead TB awareness. Check the Stop TB Partnership Partners’ Directory to find contact information for your local government tuberculosis program or an NGO working on TB. Find out from them how you can help spread TB awareness in your community.


Help raise funds. Lead a drive in your school, workplace or community to raise funds for Stop TB or other TB initiatives. You can give funds to the Stop TB Partnership through a UN Foundation donation portal


Share a success story. The Stop TB Partnership Secretariat is continually seeking success stories about people and communities doing their part to fight TB. Write to us at stoptbadvocacy@who.int.


Form or join a patient organization: Network with other TB patients and discuss how you could create a formal or informal group to provide each other and other TB patients support and guidance while they undergo treatment.