Tuberculosis (TB): How can it be prevented?

By Salome Phelamei | Last Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014 - 18:30

Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei

Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne disease that mainly affects your lungs. TB is caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air when people who have an active TB infection cough or sneeze.

It is said that tuberculosis can be prevented through adequate ventilation and limited contacts with patients.

People who test positive for latent TB infection should take medications to lower their risk of getting active TB. Hence, avoiding latent TB from becoming active will also avoid tuberculosis transmission to others.

Medication

However, people who have active TB are advised to keep the germs from spreading to others. Medication is the most important thing for people with infectious TB to protect themselves and their family. One should finish the entire course of medicine, else bacteria can develop mutations enabling them to survive the most potent TB drugs, which is more deadly and hard to treat.

Vaccine

A TB vaccine called bacille Calmette-Guerin or BCG is often given to babies and children in countries where tuberculosis is very common. The BCG vaccine can prevent severe TB in children but not in adults. Also, the BCG vaccine may cause a false-positive reaction to a TB skin test for which researchers are currently working on developing more effective vaccines.

Other important steps to protect yourself and others may include:

-Wash hands after sneezing, coughing.

-Cover mouth with a tissue while coughing, sneezing or laughing. Used tissues should be discarded immediately in a plastic bag, seal it and throw it away.

-Do not go to school or work during the first few weeks of treatment.

-Ventilate the room as TB spreads more easily in small closed spaces. Open the windows and use a fan to blow out air from your room.

-Avoid sleeping in a room with other members of the family.



First Published: Monday, March 24, 2014 - 18:30

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