Welcome,... on this page we hope to provide informative insights and updates concerning serious health and awareness issues. The information is presented in an effort to encourage further investigation and exploration on the part of the visitor. It is not intended to be a complete review of the subject, nor does it suppose to deliver medical advice. More like a wake up call..
Tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial infection usually transmitted by inhalation of infected droplets. It typically affects the lungs, although infection of multiple organ systems does occur. TB infection most often remains inactive - and noninfectious - for those with healthy immune systems. Those with immuno-incompetent systems, however, may be especially susceptible to active TB disease. Infection is most often caused by inhalation of airborne droplets expelled from the lungs of an active TB carrier. These droplets can remain in a confined area for hours after the source has departed.
Symptoms of active TB disease include persistent coughing, along with some combination of the following: loss of appetite, weakness, loss of weight, fever, and night sweats.
With a history dating back at least as far as 2500 B.C., Tuberculosis continues to live up to its reputation as mankind's greatest infectious killer, with 2 - 3 million people falling victim annually. Most infection and morbidity occurs today in the developing world; however, after years of decline in infection rates, the United States experienced a rise in incidence rates from the late 1980's which peaked in 1992. More than 17,000 active cases were reported to the federal Centers for Disease Control in 1999.
The spiking of incidence rates in the 1990's has been attributed to a combination of conditions: immuno-compromise due to HIV infection; immigration from TB-endemic countries; transmission in group and crowded conditions; deterioration of infrastructures for TB services; and development of hearty strains of (multiple drug resistant) MDR-TB.
As recently as fall of 1999, a North Dakota tuberculosis outbreak affecting 56 locals, mostly children, was traced all the way to the Marshall Islands. This underscores the far-reaching effect of today's global routes of transmission.
TB is a preventable and curable disease. However, since the mid -1940s, TB has been controllable only in those cultures with the means and the infrastructure to improve living conditions and provide effective drug therapy. As we move into the 21st century, the increasing threat of MDR-TB will hopefully resensitize the public to the dangers of this disease, and particularly to the interdependence of TB in both western and developing cultures.
The World Health Organization estimates annual worldwide TB infections at nearly 8 million cases. Relating this to today's global mobility, one begins to appreciate why WHO speculates TB " may be the principle epidemic of the 21st Century."
(For a sobering account of the current TB epidemic in the former Soviet Union and its potential influence as a worldwide threat, refer to the July 16, 2000 Edition of CBS "60 Minutes.") (See reference below)
Tuberculosis Elimination Revisited. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Volume 48. August 13, 1999
TB. New Jersey Medical School. National Tuberculosis Center. www.umdnj.edu/ntbc
"T.B." CBS 60 Minutes . July 16, 2000. cbsnews.cbs.com
For more information on Tuberculosis and other pulmonary diseases, refer to: