Tuberculosis (TB) can be a serious infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects your lungs and is spread through the air from one person to another.
World TB Day is an annual event on March 24th that generates public awareness of this devastating disease. It commemorates the day in 1882 that Dr. Robert Koch discovered the bacillus that causes TB, which was the most important step taken toward eliminating and preventing this disease. Even though there is a cure for TB, many people in the US and worldwide still struggle with it, and there is a common problem of misdiagnosing the disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are two main strains of TB: latent TB infection (LTBI) and TB disease. Just because you have TB doesn’t mean you’re exhibiting active signs of an infection, but you still can be a carrier (LTBI). Because of these multiple strains, World TB Day is a great day to reconnect and make sure you keep TB in mind when diagnosing patients.
Who is at Risk?
- People with HIV
- People who have been infected with TB in the past 2 years
- Young children
- Intravenous drug users
- Elderly people
- People who have not been vaccinated for TB
Identify: Common Signs & Symptoms of TB
- Bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood/sputum
- Other: weakness, fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, night sweats
Testing for TB
- Tuberculin Skin Test (TST)
- TST involves injecting a liquid called tuberculin into the skin of a patient. A diagnosis will be determined by the reaction of the skin where the liquid was injected after 2 to 3 days.
- TB Blood Tests
- TB blood tests measure the strength of an immune system by how blood reacts to TB bacteria in a laboratory.
For more information: Testing for TB Factsheet
Many practicing physicians in countries with high TB rates use the TB vaccine, Baille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), more regularly than physicians in the United States. The vaccine is designed for young infants and children who test negative for TB and who have common exposure to adults who have TB or are being treated for TB. This vaccine is used sparingly, because once you are vaccinated, your TB skin test from then on may result in a positive reaction, thus it will be more difficult to tell if you have contracted the disease or if you were simply vaccinated for it.
BoardVitals teamed up with Vaccine Ambassadors last year in an going philanthropic campaign, GIVEVAX, to help provide vaccines to those families and communities in need. Among other vaccines, our donations have been used (as needed) to provide the BCG to communities with small children who are in common contact with TB.
With each purchase of a BoardVitals question bank, you are donating a life-saving vaccine to someone in need. So, why not #GiveVax?