WANTED: Tuberculosis

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Description of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a non-motile, rod shaped bacterium. Each rod is about .2-.5 um wide and 2-4 micrometers in length. The bacterium is not classified as Gram-positive or Gram-negative because it lacks the chemical characteristics of both; it does contain peptidoglycan in its cell wall though.

How It's Spread

Tuberculosis is airborne, so you can get it by just breathing the same air as an infected person. You can't get it by just touching a person though. You can spread it by coughing, breathing, sneezing, etc the particles into the air.

Who Gets It

While anybody can get Tuberculosis, it is most common among people who:

  • have an illness that weakens the immune system
  • are in close contact with someone who has tuberculosis
  • care for a patient with tuberculosis
  • live or work in crowded areas where other people may have active tuberculosis
  • have poor access to health care
  • abuse drugs or alcohol
  • travel to or are born in areas where untreated tuberculosis is common
  • babies
  • senior citizens

Where Tuberculosis is Primarily Located

Symptoms of Tuberculosis

Symptoms Include:

  • coughing
  • chest pain
  • coughing up blood or sputum
  • weakness or fatigue
  • weight loss
  • chills
  • no appetite
  • Fever
  • sweating at night

What Tuberculosis Does to A Cell

The tuberculosis bacterium, when it enters your body, is attacked by white blood cells, but tuberculosis doesn't get destroyed in the white blood cell, it infects it. The tuberculosis bacterium doesn't just sit in the White blood cell though, it bursts out and recruits a whole host of other blood cells, surrounding an infection and creating a granuloma.

Deadliness of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis can be treated and cured with drugs, but if left untreated, it can be fatal. The mortality rate has been falling by about 1.5% every year since the mid-1900s and is continuing to fall today.

Number of Victims

The number of cases in the U.S. in 2014 was 9,421, which is about 2.96 cases per 100,000 people. The approximate number of cases in the world in 2014 was about 9.6 million.

Weapons Against Tuberculosis

The most common medications used to combat tuberculosis are:

  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)
  • Ethambutol (Myambutol)
  • Pyrazinamide

Interesting Facts

  • famous composer Henry Purcell died of tuberculosis
  • tuberculosis is the leading cause of deaths among people with HIV
  • almost all tuberculosis deaths and cases occur in the developing country world
  • March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day
  • World Tuberculosis Day began in 1982


-World Health Organization

-CNN News

-Scientific American

-Centers for Disease Control