Tuberculosis

April 2017


Definition


Tuberculosis is a contagious disease caused by a bacterium of the genus Mycobacterium, the organism most commonly involved being Mycobacterium tuberculosis or Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is highly contagious, an airborne disease. Sneezing, coughing and talking are the principal means of transmission of tuberculosis. Today in developed countries, tuberculosis has become rare, usually affecting almost exclusively certain immigrants or immunocompromised patients, whose immune defenses are impaired. Generally, the first contact with the bacillus responsible for a tuberculosis primary infection usually goes unnoticed. However, the bacilli remain dormant in the body and can sometimes multiply, responsible for secondary tuberculosis or TB disease. Bacilli can then invade the lung or other organs, spread through the bloodstream.

Symptoms


During primary infection, some clinical signs can be seen, although tuberculosis is frequently asymptomatic:
  • slight fever;
  • tiredness;
  • sweating;
  • sometimes, coughing.

TB is manifested by:
  • Coughing;
  • sputum that is sometimes bloody, called hemoptysis;
  • fatigue associated with a loss of appetite and weight loss.

Diagnosis


In the case of a primary infection, a test called intradermal tuberculin will highlight the latter. A small subcutaneous injection is made and will be "read" 72 hours later by the doctor. An X-ray of the lungs can highlight lung crevices and nodules, small rounded opacities at the location of the bacillus. The diagnosis is based on the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes tuberculosis. To detect the latter, a gastric tube is used to retrieve sputum and secretions that will be analyzed. In the presence of nodes, a node biopsy is performed, or urine cultures can be made to highlight urogenital tuberculosis. If the infection affects the brain, a lumbar puncture is necessary.

Treatment


TB requires treatment based on the prescription of four antibiotics. Blood tests and radiographic inspections are performed regularly. The total duration of treatment of tuberculosis is usually 6 months.

Prevention


Prevention of tuberculosis is based on:
  • vaccination in populations at risk;
  • the early treatment of patients;
  • the systematic isolation of TB patients for a period of at least two weeks;
  • screening of the environment of a patient;
  • treatment of any person in an environment contaminated with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Related

Published by Jeff. Latest update on November 12, 2013 at 05:17 AM by Jeff.
This document, titled "Tuberculosis," is available under the Creative Commons license. Any copy, reuse, or modification of the content should be sufficiently credited to CCM Health (health.ccm.net).