Renewed Fight Against TB via New Diagnostic Tool
Tuberculosis is a health condition that used to be the leading cause of death. During the 19th century, one in seven people die of the disease. Dr. Robert Koch’s discovery on the cause of Tuberculosis provided an opportunity for people to get rid of the risks for the disease. A vaccine was developed soon after the discovery and more and more people, especially those in industrialized countries, were saved from infection of the contagious disease.
TB is InfectiousTuberculosis or TB is much like the common cold, cough, or flu. The TB germs may transfer from one person to another if the infected person coughs, sneezes, or spits. Even if a small number of the germs are inhaled, a person can already be infected.
If a person with Tuberculosis germs in his lungs is left untreated, he could infect at least 10 or 15 people yearly. Then again, people with TB bacilli in their lungs do not necessarily develop TB immediately. The immune system can protect the body from the germs at least until it is strong. When the immune system is weakened, that is when the disease becomes full blown.
When TB flares up in a patient, it will lead mostly to a pulmonary or lung-related condition. The symptoms may vary from constant chest pain to persistent cough that sometimes come with blood. Swollen eyes, weight loss, fevers, night sweats, chills, and tiredness are also common.
WHO’s ConcernIndeed, TB is of great international concern. In fact the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a global health emergency in 1993 when the occurrence of TB started rising by one infection per second. That occurrence is still true today. But since not all those infected with the germs develop the full-blown disease, incidence of deaths associated to Tuberculosis is not that overwhelming.
Still, WHO believes that the worldwide epidemic, especially in third-world countries, must be addressed properly. 1.5 million people who die of TB annually are no joke. That huge number makes diagnostic, vaccination, and quick treatment crucial.
In line with this, WHO recently unveiled a new diagnostic tool that will be able to detect drug-resistant strains of the disease while you wait. That means a lot as it will be able to help physicians and healthcare professionals to determine and develop the proper course of treatment.
Rapid TB TestAll that is needed for the rapid TB test that was recently introduced by WHO is a small amount of spit from the infected patient. It will go through an automated process via a specialized computer-sized machine. In 100 minutes, a result will be delivered. That is quite impressive as opposed to the usual weeks that other testing tools require for a result from the lab to be delivered.
According to the head of WHO’s Stop TB Programme, Mario Raviglione, "What we are doing today at WHO is to endorse the use by countries of a new fully automated rapid test that detects quickly in one hour and 40 minutes tuberculosis and the most difficult forms of tuberculoses."