Wednesday, 20 February 2008
IS TUBERCULOSIS EASY TO CATCH?
A KILLER ON THE PROWL...
"There is nowhere to hide from tuberculosis bacteria," warns Dr. Arata Kochi, director of the WHO Global TB Programme. "Anyone can catch TB simply by inhaling a TB germ that has been coughed or sneezed into the air. These germs can remain suspended in the air for hours; even years. We are all at risk."
Before a person becomes ill with TB, however, two things must happen. First, he or she must be infected with TB bacteria. Second, the infection must progress to disease.
Though it is possible to become infected by brief contact with a highly contagious person, TB is much more likely to be spread through repeated contact, such as that which occurs among family members living in crowded conditions.
The bacilli inhaled by a person who becomes infected multiply in the chest. In 9 out of 10 people, however, the immune system halts the spread of the infection, and the infected person does not become sick. Sometimes, however, the dormant bacilli can be activated if the immune system becomes severely weakened by HIV, diabetes, chemotherapy cancer treatments, or other causes.