A General Overview of the Disease by Rebekah White

What is Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease characterized by the growth nodules* in the tissues, especially the lung.

*Also known as tubercles- a small nodular lesion in the lungs or other tissues.


  • Scientist determined tuberculosis was present in East Afirca as early as 3 million years ago, although there is limited evidence to support this.
  • Early settlers began to move out of Aftica about 1.7 million years ago.
  • Earliest evidence of of pre-Colombian tuberculosis in America comes from the Andean region.
  • There is evidence that the disease occured throughout America before European settlers.
  • Tuberculosis reached epidemic proportions in Europe and North America during the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Myrobacterium tuberculosis have been determined to have killed more people than any other microbial pathogen.

What Part of the Body Does Tuberculosis Affect and How Does it Affect the Body?

  • Tuberculosis is commonly present in the lungs. However, it can spread via blood from the lungs to other organs of the body. It can affect the brian, kidneys, but most commonly, the lungs.
  • Global toll: Nine million people become ill iwth tuberculosis each yeat and more than a million and a half people die. In a single day, tuberculosis causes the equilalent in lives lost in 15 jetliner crashes.
  • Impact on women: Tuberculosis is the number 3 cause of death among women of childbearing age and the number 4 cause of death among women of all ages. More than 1/2 million women die of TB each year.
  • Impact on children: 1/2 million children will become ill with TB annually.
  • People with TB often suffer from discrimination and stigma, rejection and social isolation. The disease is a major cause of poverty because people with TB are often too sick to work, and they and their families may have to pay for treatment.
  • Tuberculosis can be treated using various medications. Untreated, it has the potential to kill.

Causes- How is it Transmitted?

Tuberculosis is sread through the air and through the bodily fluids of an infected person. If a person with TB coughs, sneezes, sings, or even speaks, the surrounding persons have a chance to cath the disease.


How Many People Does This Disease Affect?

In 2013, 9 million people were diagnosed with TB. 1.5 million of these people died having the disease.

Does TB Affect a Certain Age Group?

Tuberculosis mostly affects young adults during their most productive years. However, all age groups are at risk for TB.

Mortality Rate?

About 16% of people who are originally diagnosed with tuberculosis end up dying from it.

*Note: TB is common among all ethnicities, however, the disease is more common in third world countries.

Signs and Symptoms

Testing for TB

A doctor can determine whether or not a patient has tuberculosis by taking x-rays of their chest or testing their sputum* . The x-ray shows an abnormal mass in the lungs.

*The matter that a patient coughs up.

The picture to the right shows a mass in a left lung of a tuberculosis patient.


TB can be treated by taking a series of drugs for 6 to 9 months. There are currently 10 drugs approved by the U.S. F.D.A. used to treat TB. The core drugs of the treatment are as follows:

  • isoniazid (INH)
  • rifampin (RIF)
  • ethambutol (EMB)
  • pyrazinamide (PZA)


TB is more likely to enter the body when the immune system is weakened. By eating healthy and avoiding drugs, smoking, alcohol, and stress, one can reduce their risk of getting TB.