What are the precautions to bear in mind when it comes to tuberculosis?

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Tuberculosis is considered as a persistent disease that has been one of the main causes of death throughout the years in different parts of the globe. At the present, the disease is currently under control but cases are still rampant in underdeveloped countries particularly in Africa and South East Asia.

Due to the communicable nature of tuberculosis, it is important that you are well aware of the precautions to bear in mind to prevent acquiring the disease. You can enroll in a first aid course today if you want to learn more about infection control.

What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is basically a bacterial disease that can be cured with an extended course of antibiotics. If the condition is left untreated, it can be deadly. Tuberculosis spreads from one individual to another through infected droplets released by singing, coughing, sneezing or talking. In most cases, an individual can become infected after spending time with an individual who has active tuberculosis. Even though the infection typically settles in the lungs, it can also go to other parts of the body such as the kidneys, lymph nodes, bones and meninges.

There are many individuals who have latent tuberculosis which is a dormant form of the disease. These individuals are not actively sick with the condition and could not spread it to others. On the other hand, unless an extended course of antibiotics is started, the dormant infection can become an active infection even years later that can be easily passed on to others.

Tuberculosis spreads from one individual to another through infected droplets released by singing, coughing, sneezing or talking.

Active tuberculosis usually includes symptoms such as weight loss, persistent cough, fever and night sweats. Those who have latent tuberculosis can develop into the active infection but those who have a weakened immune system face a higher risk.

Controlling the spread of infection

Once an individual develops active tuberculosis, they need an intensive 6-9 month course of antibiotics in order to eliminate the bacteria as well as protecting others from getting infected. This usually takes at least 2 weeks for the antibiotics to clear the bacteria from the lung secretions.

Those who have active tuberculosis should stay at home at least 2 weeks or until they are not contagious anymore. If the individual is hospitalized, they should be kept away from others, quarantined in a room with special ventilation until they are not contagious anymore.

Those who have latent tuberculosis do not spread the disease but an extended course on antibiotics is required to prevent it from becoming active. There are no special precautions required for this type of tuberculosis.

Precautions to bear in mind

Individuals who have symptoms of active tuberculosis or those who have been exposed to an individual with active tuberculosis should seek immediate medical assessment. They will be asked regarding the symptoms and any exposure to tuberculosis.

Testing will be carried out based on their medical history and possible exposure. The usual tests include the TB skin test, TB blood tests and a chest X-ray. Those who are identified as at risk for the disease are given a course of preventive antibiotics.

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