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24 February 2015
Tuberculosis  

Causative agent

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It usually affects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis). Other parts of the body can also be affected (extrapulmonary tuberculosis) such as lymph nodes, kidneys, bones, joints.

Clinical features

The symptoms of pulmonary TB include low-grade fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss, a persistent cough and blood in sputum. Some people may not have obvious symptoms.

Mode of transmission

Tuberculosis is spread through the air. When a person with infective pulmonary tuberculosis coughs or sneezes, the bacteria gets into the air and causes disease if a susceptible person inhales it. Effective antibiotic treatment usually shortens the infectious period to within a few weeks.

Incubation period

Symptoms may occur as early as several weeks after infection, or it may occur after many years. An infected person has the greatest risk of developing TB within the first two years after infection.

Management

People with tuberculosis should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. They are prescribed multiple drug therapy for at least six months. In order to eradicate the bacteria, patients should follow their doctors' instruction and complete the course of treatment.

Prevention

1. Maintain good personal and environmental hygiene.
2. Adopt a healthy lifestyle, i.e., have balanced diet, adequate exercise and rest.
3. Keep hands clean and wash hands properly.
4. Wash hands when they are dirtied by respiratory secretions e.g. after sneezing.
5. Cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing and dispose of nasal and mouth discharge properly.
6. Seek treatment promptly if symptoms similar to tuberculosis appear, particularly persistently cough for more than one month.
7. Receive BCG immunization according to immunization schedule. (Please refer to programme of immunization)

World TB Day

World TB Day Opening Ceremony

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