According to studies, an estimated 28 lakh cases of TB occurred and 4.5 lakh people died due to it in 2016. Tuberculosis (or TB) is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and India accounts for about a quarter of the global TB burden.
In March 2017 the Government of India (GoI) announced that the new aim with regard to TB in India was the elimination of TB by 2025. TB is curable and preventable. Knowing the prevailing myths and facts can help save your life and can also help end the stigma that people living with TB face.
Some of the common myths pertaining to TB and its occurrence, transmission, and diagnosis have been busted here.
Myth 1: TB is a genetic disease
Fact: There is no specific gene for TB, nor is it transmitted genetically. TB is an airborne disease. It is spread when a person with active TB coughs, laughs, sneezes, breathing out tiny infected particles into the air. Which when inhaled by others can spread TB.
Myth 2: TB occurs only in the lower socio-economic class of the society.
Fact: A TB bacterium doesn’t discriminate between castes, culture or economic status to infect. The disease may spread to anyone in contact with an infected person.
Myth 3: No symptoms ensures the absence of infection.
Fact: A person may be infected with TB bacteria for years but may not show any symptoms. However, it is equally dangerous for the patients and people around them as the underlying infection may turn into an active TB infection anytime.
Myth 4: TB can only be caused due to excessive smoking.
Fact: Smoking does increase the risk of developing Tuberculosis. But, it is caused only though infection by Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria.
Myth 5: TB affects lungs only.
Fact: Although TB of the lung is the most commonly seen form of Tuberculosis but the bacterium is equally potent to affect the kidneys, lymph nodes, brain, spinal cord, intestines or the covering of the heart of a patient.
Myth 6: BCG immunization can prevent TB infection for the lifetime
Fact: BCG provides only a short-term prevention from the disease.
Myth 7: TB cannot be cured.
Fact: Undergoing the complete medication course as advised by your doctor for TB can help cure it for the lifetime.
Myth 8: TB once treated can not reoccur
Fact: The chance of relapse of the disease increases if the patient does not complete the course of previous treatment.
Myth 9: Patients with only active TB need medication.
Fact: Any person carrying the Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection without having any symptom are equally potent, and must be treated with same rigor.
Myth 10: Only a TB patient can spread the disease
Fact: Many animal species, especially cattle and cat family, are known to be the carrier of the disease.
Myth 11: Blood in spit always means TB infection
Fact: Blood in spit may occur due to many other reasons also. Proper sample examination and analysis can only confirm any occurrence of infection.
Myth 12: A TB patient cannot be touched
Fact: A close and prolonged contact with TB patient can lead to the bacterial entry in the respiratory tract of the other person. Otherwise, it is safe to hug, kiss or touch a TB patient
TB is not difficult to fight. Staying alert and informed is half the battle won.