world TBday 2020
March 24th is the annual WHO TB awareness day.
1/3 the world population is infected with this. Why am I talking about a disease that is long forgotten when there is a prima donna like the corona virus taking the centre stage.
Just mute the button on corona virus and consider the similarities between the two.
- Both hit the respiratory system.
- Both are airborne.
- Both get discharged into the atmosphere with sneezes and spits.
- The risk group is also quite similar
- Senior citizens
- Immune compromised.
- Poor health care.
- Lack of adequate hygiene in the environment and personal.
As I mentioned before both TB and corona virus are air borne respiratory disorders. So tools that are used in diagnosis of TB could be useful here. actually Cepheid’s GeneXpert has just been updated to do the corona virus tests too. this helps lot of middle-income countries to massively expand covid testing.
Considering the TB statistics of 1/3 the world population being infected. 1,500,000 people died of TB as of 2017-2018 while 484,000 are ill due to drug resistance. India accounts for a quarter of the TB deaths.
Between 2006 and 2014 India registered 340 billion cases.
Between 2018-2019 2.15 million new cases have been diagnosed.
WHO has now declared the task force to focus on latent tuberculosis and treat it.
Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculum. This is an unusually waxy bacteria with due to the presence of mycolic acid on it. World TB day is commemorated every 24th of March as that was the day Robert Koch discovered the bacteria. Various strains that exhibit similar symptoms are mycobacterium Laprae (leprosy) Mycobacterium Avium and Mycobacterium Bovine. They all exhibit similar symptoms.
Symptoms of TB are:
Cough, fever, loss of appetite and weight loss. Haemoptysis or blood discharge during cough is seen in later stages. Though the respiratory track is the primary site metastasis could occur to any organ.
Some truths that TB can teaches with regard to corona virus.:
Harsh reality once the disease stops killing people in the richer countries money dries up. TB is now a forgotten threat, it belongs to the marginalized society the disease of the poor and marginalized.
Mutation of the pathogens is constant, so medicines and treatments that work today will develop resistance at a later day.
Panic causes greater havoc than the disease proper.
IT CAN BE CONTAINED, AND TREATED.
TB is a old, tricky forgotten killer, but it still remains the largest killer. It could be the right time, to take the laws against spitting seriously. And learn basic hygiene routine like covering the mouth while sneezing, coughing or yawning. Washing the hands and sanitizing surfaces. Parallel testing for TB might be a good idea particularly if GeneXpert is being used.
More importantly it might be relevant to monitor the interaction between existing epidemics and the newly emerging pandemic. Corona virus is definitely aggressive and has to be handled so, but not at the cost of other killers left unattended.