What Is Tuberculosis (TB)?

By amara
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Tuberculosis is a serious illness that kills approximately 1.5 million people across the globe annually. While the disease had been almost nonexistent for decades in developed countries, cases began to rise again in the mid-1980s with the spread of HIV. By the mid-‘90s, incidents began to drop again due to treatment protocols, but TB is still a concern.

The infection typically strikes the lungs, though it can attack other parts of the body as well. Not everyone who contracts tuberculosis gets sick from it. That said, on a global scale, it is the leading cause of death from an infectious disease.

1. What Causes TB?

Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The infection is contagious and spreads from person to person. It can be transmitted through droplets or aerosols. When infected people talk, cough, sing, sneeze, yell or breathe, they can spread the disease to those nearby who breathe in the air or droplets containing bacteria.

When a person breathes in enough M. tuberculosis, the bacteria can travel to and settle in the throat and lungs, which eventually leads to TB. The illness is not spread through direct contact, so you cannot get it from shaking hands, sharing your food or drink, kissing or touching an infected person.


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