'TB Patrol'


Health is my expected heaven.

John Keats (1795-1821) English poet

Letters of John Keats

(Keats suffered from, and died of, tuberculosis)

OH the power of media! Here we were all agog over SARS as the killer of the century. The public cringed and each SARS suspect was hounded by reporters and cameramen like a criminal. How conveniently we have forgotten that tuberculosis or TB never went away in this part of the world. It has been the killer for centuries. I am almost sure that high-tech forensic examination will reveal tuberculosis in at least a few Sagada mummies. TB is a public enemy. Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 8 million people will develop TB and 3 million of them will die. Already, 2 billion people or 1/3 of the worlds population has TB.

Know the Enemy. Tuberculosis is an infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is spread through the air and this is the reason the lungs are the most frequently affected. However, TB also may spread through the lymph nodes and can damage virtually any organ. It can spread by contiguity. For example, TB from the lungs can spread to adjacent structures like the spine (Potts disease).

Will I get TB? Lets put it this way: if youre Filipino you probably have it or had it. This is no racial slur but a simple statement of fact. Two to eight weeks after being infected, the body responds by walling off infected cells. In the lungs, this is called Ghons complex, a battle scar if you will, of a successful bout against TB. Now for TB to worsen or reactivate, the person could be weakened by age or malnutrition or another infection like HIV.

There is a 50 percent chance of getting infected if a person spends 8 hours a day for six months (or 24 hours a day for two months) with a contagious person. For health professionals and workers, as you can see, the chances are quite high.

Signs & Symptoms. Active TB means that the person is infective and will have the capability to spread it by coughing, sneezing, singing or laughing.

* Persistent cough with yellowish to greenish mucus, and much later, blood-tinged

* Night Sweats

* Afternoon fever

* Weight loss

* Chest or back pain

* Shortness of breath (dyspnea)

* Loss of appetite

Diagnosis. …

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