World Tuberculosis Day, here are signs and symptoms to watch out for

World tuberculosis day is observed annually on 24 March to raise awareness about TB and efforts to end the global epidemic, marking the day in 1882 when the bacterium causing TB was discovered.

Livemint
Updated24 Mar 2023
In March 2018, during the End TB summit held in New Delhi, Prime Minister had called for India to achieve TB-related SDG targets by 2025, five years ahead of the stipulated time
In March 2018, during the End TB summit held in New Delhi, Prime Minister had called for India to achieve TB-related SDG targets by 2025, five years ahead of the stipulated time

World tuberculosis day is observed annually on 24 March to raise awareness about TB and efforts to end the global epidemic, marking the day in 1882 when the bacterium causing TB was discovered. This years theme is ‘Yes! We can end TB!’ which aims to inspire hope and encourage high-level leadership, increased investments, faster uptake of new WHO recommendations, adoption of innovations, accelerated action, and multisectoral collaboration to combat the TB epidemic.

In March 2018, during the End TB summit held in New Delhi, Prime Minister had called for India to achieve TB-related SDG targets by 2025, five years ahead of the stipulated time. In 2022, for the first time in nearly two decades, WHO reported an increase in the number of people falling ill with TB and drug resistant TB, alongside an increase in deaths.

“TB is preventable, treatable and curable, and yet this ancient scourge that has afflicted humanity for millennia continues to cause suffering and death for millions every year,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said.

TB Signs and Symptoms

As per WHO, Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable. It is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected. 

Common symptoms of active lung TB are 

cough with sputum and blood at times,

chest pains, 

weakness, 

weight loss, 

fever  

night sweats.

As per Mayoclinic, symptoms of TB are different in each stage: Primary, Latent, Active. The first stage is called the primary infection where patients have symptoms like low fever, tiredness, and cough. The next stage is latent TB infection wherein immune system cells form a wall around the lung tissue containing TB germs, however they cannot do any harm if the immune system continues to keep the germs under control. Latent TB infection is asymptomatic. In active TB disease happens when the immune system can't control the infection. The active TB disease symptoms in the lungs usually begin gradually and worsen over a few weeks. They include:

Cough.

Coughing up blood or mucus.

Chest pain.

Pain with breathing or coughing.

Fever.

Chills.

Night sweats.

Weight loss.

Not wanting to eat.

Tiredness.

Not feeling well in general.

As per Mayoclinic, TB infection that spread from the lungs to other parts of the body is called extrapulmonary tuberculosis. These symptoms include: 

Fever.

Chills.

Night sweats.

Weight loss.

Not wanting to eat.

Tiredness.

Not feeling well in general.

Pain near the site of infection

Common sites of active TB disease outside the lungs also include Kidneys, Liver, Fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, Heart muscles, Genitals, Lymph nodes, Bones and joints, Skin, Walls of blood vessels, Voice box, also called laryn.

Tuberculosis is particularly difficult to diagnose in children. In Teenager, symptoms are similar to adults, from age 1-12 year-olds, symptoms like fever that won't go away and weight loss. In infants, symptoms include being sluggish or not active, unusually fussy, vomiting, poor feeding, bulging soft spot on the head and poor reflexes. 

TB in India

Currently, Gautam Buddh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh has over 6,600 active patients of tuberculosis. In 2022, the district had registered 9,790 TB patients, including 2,331 who got tested at private facilities, and in 2023 (till March 15), it has registered 1,961 patients, including 723 from private facilities, the department's data showed. In Mumbai, as per Hindustan Times report, after the roll-out of the initiative to screen relatives of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) patients, BMC found 47.60 percent i.e. 3,645 out of 7,656 positive for latent TB. 

On Thursday, while speaking to news agency ANI, the Executive Director of the STOP TB Partnership, Dr Lucica Ditiu said she has no hesitation to say that India will end TB by 2025. In an exclusive Interview with ANI, Dr Ditiu said, "I think the financial resources will come and will basically facilitate the implementation of these activities and the last one is this, I think is important to decentralise as much as possible the services and to ensure that everybody goes closer to people with TB, in the periphery, in the smaller communities, in the villages in the small parts of cities and so on, to make sure that you know you create this foundation and the basis. If these three things will go with the ambition and the tools that we see now in India. I really have no hesitation to say that India will end TB by 2025."

India recently launched the Ni-kshay Mitra (Donor) programme wherein anyone can adopt TB patients and take care of their medicine, food and even vocational expenses. In a short time, nearly 1 million TB patients have been adopted. Speaking of the policy, she said, “This is an amazing policy and India has put a lot of innovative tools in place. There is no other country in the world that had this idea which is fantastic. It brings empathy and love for the person near you and the desire to help.”

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