oi-Amritha K

World Tuberculosis Day is observed annually on 24 March to raise awareness among people about the consequences of tuberculosis.

World Tuberculosis Day 2023 theme is, "We can end TB!", aiming to urge leaders throughout the world to take action to stop the spread of TB.

As many as 40% of the Indian population carry TB bacteria in their bodies, although they may not suffer from TB disease. Tuberculosis infection can become a TB disease when there is low immunity [1].

However, the crisis may not be viewed as serious due to some misconceptions. Raising awareness can help individuals in danger seek treatment. By vaccinating at-risk individuals properly, the disease may be cured, and tuberculosis eradicated [1].

So, is tuberculosis contagious? Let's take a look.

Is Tuberculosis Contagious?

The bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB) spread through the air from one person to another. When someone with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, speaks or sings, TB bacteria can enter the air [2].

So, is tuberculosis contagious? Yes, tuberculosis is an extremely contagious disease and can be spread from an infected to an uninfected person through coughing, sneezing, speaking, or singing. It is an airborne disease.

How Does Tuberculosis Spread?

Inhalation of TB bacteria can result in the bacteria settling in the lungs, where they can start to grow. From there, they can move through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, including the kidneys, the spine, and the brain [3].

TB disease in the lungs or throat is infectious, which means that the bacteria can spread to other people.

However, TB in other parts of the body, such as the kidney or spine, is usually not infectious. TB disease is most likely to spread to people who spend a large amount of time with them every day.

Who Is At Risk Of Contracting Tuberculosis?

Exposure to TB bacteria does not always lead to infection. Your body may be able to fight it off.

You may be at an increased risk for TB if you have a weakened immune system. You may be at an increased risk for TB if you have any of the following [4]:

  • HIV
  • Cancer
  • Undergoing cancer treatment
  • Taking medication for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease

What Are The Ways In Which Tuberculosis Does Not Spread?

In addition to kissing, hugging, or shaking hands with a person with tuberculosis, sharing bed linens, clothes, or a toilet seat does not spread the disease.

As a result, if you are living close to someone with TB for an extended period, you may be susceptible to contracting the disease from breathing air that has been contaminated with the bacteria [5].

How To Reduce Your Risk For Tuberculosis?

One way to reduce your risk for tuberculosis is to reduce your exposure to individuals with active tuberculosis, but this may not always be feasible. Get up-to-date information about travel warnings and vaccination requirements if you are travelling to a foreign country where tuberculosis continues to pose a serious public health problem [6].

The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine is available for tuberculosis. Consult your physician if you would like to know more about it and whether it is appropriate for you to receive it.

On A Final Note...

Tuberculosis is a contagious disease that spreads by air. It can be prevented by reducing your exposure to people with the disease. A vaccine may also reduce your risk of contracting tuberculosis.

Story first published: Friday, March 24, 2023, 11:10 [IST]

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