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Factbox: What is Tuberculosis?

What is Tuberculosis?It is an infectious disease caused by the spread Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a bacteria that mainly affects the lungs.


Tuberculosis is the second most fatal disease in the world, behind HIV/AIDS.There are two states of the disease:Infection – when someone has the disease but it does not develop into something more seriousDisease – when the infection develops into a disease, which can happen anytime.Around 10 per cent of those who become infected will develop the disease How widespread is the disease?According to 2013 World Health Organization figures, 9 million people fell ill and 1.5 million died from tuberculosis. Over 95 per cent of cases were in developing countries.80 per cent of the disease is spread between 22 countries.In 2013, the South East Asia and Western Pacific Region accounted for 56 per cent of TB cases worldwide.In the same year, Africa had the highest ratio of infection people, with 281 people per 100,000 infected with the disease.In Australia, there are approximately 1,300 new cases of tuberculosis diagnosed each year


How is it transmitted?It is spread from person to person through tiny airborne droplets, such as if someone with the active untreated disease coughs or sneezes and those particles are passed into the mouths of others.Only those who progress to the second stage can transmit the disease.


How is tuberculosis treated?The treatment for tuberculosis is four antimicrobial drugs and frequent chest x-rays to monitor the disease.The patient must be in isolation until they are no longer considered infectious.For those who are only infected, they can undergo preventative treatment for the second stage.There is also a vaccine available for tuberculosis.


Who is at risk of the disease?Anyone who has had contact with someone with the disease.Those diagnosed with cancer or HIV/AIDS.Those with a chronic illness that affects the immune system.Those taking medications that affect the immune system.


What is World Tuberculosis Day?An international day to recognise the fight against tuberculosis and to gain greater support against the disease.The 24th of March was chosen because it is the date that Dr Robert Koch discovered the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.Dr Robert Koch was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for this discovery.


Sources: World Health Organization, The Department of Health, NSW Health


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