World Tuberculosis Day: How can TB be prevented!

TB is spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.

Last Updated: Mar 24, 2016, 11:38 AM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious infectious disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, mainly affects the lungs.

TB is spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.

Anyone can get TB, but there are certain factors that increase one's risk of getting the disease such as:

  • People with weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS, cancers, diabetes, severe kidney disease
  • Babies and young children
  • Elderly people
  • IV drug users
  • People who live with or care for someone with active TB
  • Health care workers who treat people with a high risk of TB

But TB transmission can be prevented through adequate ventilation and limited contact with patients.

Here are some basic tips to prevent getting TB or avoid spreading the disease to others:

  • Avoid direct contact with people with active TB, especially if you already have tested positive for latent TB
  • Know if you are at risk
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat
  • Excercise for at least 3-4 times a week, if not daily
  • Avoid or cut down on alcohol intake
  • Do not smoke and if you do, quit it immediately
  • Get adequate sleep – at least 7-8 hours
  • Practice good personal hygiene – avoid coughing, sneezing directly at others.
  • Use protective measures such as wearing a face mask if you are caring for people who have untreated TB
  • Get the BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccination, however the vaccine is not commonly used in the US, where infection rates are low and the disease is highly treatable
  • Get early diagnosis and treatment in order to prevent deterioration of the disease and spread of the infection

If you are infected with TB, protect yourself while ensuring that you don't spread your germs to others.

  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when you laugh, cough or sneeze – remember to discard the used tissues in a plastic bag, seal and throw it away
  • Wash your hands asfter coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Avoid going to work, school or sleep in a room with other people during the first few weeks of treatment for active TB
  • Ventilate your room often as TB spreads in small closed spaces

Each year, March 24 is being observed as World Tuberculosis Day. It is a worldwide event, designed to build public awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease. The event also commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes TB.