Tuberculosis (TB)

by Adam Holmes


The cause of this disease is bacteria, specifically Mycobacterium Tuberculosis.
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Tuberculosis is transmitted through coughing and sneezing from an infected person that another person inhales. There is no vector.


First symptoms include:
  • Night sweats.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fever.

Symptoms over time include:

  • Coughing.
  • Chest pains.
  • Bloody sputum.
  • Difficulty breathing.


The disease is treated with antibiotics, specifically Isoniazad and Rifampin. The antibiotics must be taken for one year to effectively treat the disease. There are no side effects or trade-offs of treatments.


To prevent from receiving the disease people should keep a healthy immune system, quarantine infected individuals, and wear face masks. This prevents the disease because TB travels through sneezing and coughing so wearing a face mask will not allow the disease to me transmitted. Quarantining works because it closes off transmission from coughing and sneezing as well. Keeping a healthy immune system is important because it's less likely to get the disease in the first place.


Developing countries are the most likely to be affected by this disease, and where it most likely occurs, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa. On average 20,000 people in the U.S. have the disease.


On average 1.5 million people die from TB per year. People that harbor the disease don't necessarily infect others. There is a 5%-10% chance of people who are harboring the disease to actually develop active TB.
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Current outbreaks of TB are in Sub-Saharan Africa.


In the 20th century when TB was called “Consumption” it was the leading public health problem, especially in overcrowded and unsanitary areas.