Tuberculosis (TB): Symptoms, Causes,Transmission & Control

What is Tuberculosis? Tuberculosis Symptoms
It is a bacterial disease and is responsible for loss of many human lives particularly in under-developed countries. Not only man, all
warm-blooded animals may suffer from the disease. The organism causing this disease was first isolated and identified by Robert Koch in 1882.

Symptom: The early symptoms are the feeling of weakness and disinclination for work, loss of weight, loss of appetite, scanty or absence of menstruation in female, slight rise of temperature in the evening, night sweating, chest pain etc.

The later symptoms are by swinging of temperature of the body, flushed checks, sunken eyes, dry lips, copious sputum, peculiar odour of the breath. X-ray of the lungs, tuberculin test of the skin and pathological examination of sputum of the suspected person can confirm the presence of the tuberculin bacteria.

The tuberculin bacteria not only attack the lungs but they may also invade other tissues of the body. Tuberculosis is highly infectious but not a hereditary disease. The disease is curable but prolonged treatment is necessary. Treatment consist of taking of proper medicine, nutritious food and adequate rest.

Causative Organism: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a kind of mycelial bacterium is responsible for tuberculosis. This organism can invade any part of the body tissues. The lungs are the favourite site of infection. They release a kind of toxin called tuberculin. The incubation period is generally 2-10 weeks. However, in many cases the disease appears long after the infection took place. In healthy person the infected bacteria are encircled by the body cell forming a tubercle and the bacteria are prevented from infecting tissues further. But if the health of the person deteriorate sometimes the
tubercle cells fail to prevent the organism to come out and spread to other tissues.

Transmission: (1) A healthy person may receive germ through inhalation of droplets expelled by tubercular patients during sneezing, coughing etc. (2) Inhalation of dust containing tuberculin bacteria may cause infection. The dried sputum or other discharges may mix up with dust. (3) Careless handling of patient and his discharges may cause disease of the attending person. (4) Taking of food and drink contaminated by the bacteria causes infection. (5) Flies also spread the disease.

Infection however depends upon the virulence of the germ and the dose of the bacteria introduced into the body. The path of entry and the health of the person are also important factors determining the infection.

Control: (1) The patient must be isolated or must be sent to hospital.

(2) Disease spreads from the sputum and the discharges of the patient and therefore these should be disposed off carefully before these are dried.

(3) Food and drink should be boiled before taking. The fruit and vegetable must properly be washed in clean water before use.

(4) Young person between 17-25 years are susceptible to infection if they suffer from nutritional deficiency and therefore this should be noted.

(5) Children at very young age should be immunized through B.C.G. vaccination (B.C.G. stands for Bacillus of Calmette and Guerin. Calmette and Guerin were the two French bacteriologists who discovered that a living bovine strain of tubercle bacillus build immunity in the body against attack by tubercle bacillus). The bacillus which is administered through vaccination is rendered avirulent during preparation of vaccine.

(6) The National Tuberculosis Programme includes several measures such as treatment in specially built T.B. hospitals, B.C.G. vaccination through public health agency, setting up of training and demonstration centre etc.

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