TB is still hitting certain areas of the world pretty hard despite efforts to do away with it altogether.
While the attention of most of the world has been focused on COVID-19 for the past few years, other diseases continue to spread and circulate. Some of these, like tuberculosis (TB), have been around for a long time and are familiar to the general population. While we tend to be more comfortable with things that we know than things that are novel, it’s important to continue to respect the threat to public health that is presented by this infection.
As it is not a disease that is frequently on the minds of most people, a reminder as to what tuberculosis is and why it can be so dangerous is a good place to start. This is an infection that is spread through the traditional means of so many other diseases, namely sneezing and coughing when in close quarters with another person or a group of people. Millions of people get this infection each year, with it being more common south of the equator than to the north.
The telltale symptom that may lead a person to suspect that they are dealing with tuberculosis is an ongoing cough. If someone just can’t seem to shake their cough, and are experiencing other symptoms like losing weight, chills, and night sweats, TB may be the underlying cause.
There are drug treatments available to deal with tuberculosis, however, some of the various forms of TB have become resistant to those treatments and they aren’t working as effectively as they once did. Despite this issue, it is still important to get medical care to deal with this disease and determine how to best restore health. Getting a TB shot but infection is present is optimal.
In the UK, where progress against the issue of tuberculosis infections is not as strong as would be hoped, slowing down the spread of the disease looks much like it does for any other kind of viral illness. It starts with people staying home when they are sick and not coming into close contact with others until their symptoms start to clear up.
Much as was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic, staying a safe distance apart while sick will go a long way toward reducing infections. Also, other familiar measures like wearing a face mask when in close contact with other people, and always being sure to cover a cough or sneeze will help, as well.
Attention is being paid to the status of TB within the UK as well as in other parts of the world because the World Health Organization (WHO) has set a goal to eliminate this disease as something that affects human health on an ongoing basis. A goal was set to bring down tuberculosis infections by 90% by 2035, which would dramatically reduce the number of people impacted and the potential for the disease to spread further. Unfortunately, in the UK at least, slow progress to this point is making that goal seem unlikely to date. Hopefully, improvements in years to come in the way tuberculosis is handled will put that goal back within reach, ultimately bringing down the risk that TB poses to the general population.