What Is TB and What Are the Symptoms?
TB stands for tuberculosis, which is a dangerous infection that is responsible for killing countless people all over the globe. Even though tuberculosis is more commonly seen in developing countries, at one time, it was present all over the world. Tuberculosis is mostly a respiratory infection. Some of the most common symptoms include coughing, sneezing, sputum, and even blood in the lungs. TB can also transition into a chronic infection, where it leads to progressive fevers, weight loss, and extreme fatigue. There are some countries in the world where tuberculosis is more common than others.
Where Is TB Found?
There are approximately 30 countries that have been labeled as “high TB burden countries.” This means that these countries are responsible for the overwhelming majority of new cases of tuberculosis throughout the world. The largest number of new cases of tuberculosis typically shows up in Southeast Asia, with another large chunk of cases coming from Africa. Finally, the Western Pacific is also responsible for a significant number of new cases of tuberculosis.
In 2020, approximately 85 percent of all new cases of tuberculosis were diagnosed in countries that were on the list of “high TB burden” countries. About eight countries were responsible for more than two-thirds of all new cases of tuberculosis. They include India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and South Africa. Of note, there are countries that are added to the “high TB burden” list and removed at various times, depending on the proportion of people in the country who have been infected with tuberculosis.
Who Gets TB?
Tuberculosis is something that can impact just about anyone, but people living in the countries listed above are far more likely to contract tuberculosis because it is more common in their geographic area. One of the biggest risk factors for developing tuberculosis is the presence of HIV. Someone with HIV is approximately 18 times more likely to contract tuberculosis when compared to people who do not have tuberculosis. In addition, the risk of developing active tuberculosis is greater in people who have a condition that leads to a weakened immune system. If someone does not have active tuberculosis, they can still be diagnosed with latent TB, which means they are still infected but they may not necessarily show a lot of symptoms. Finally, people who smoke cigarettes are also far more likely to contract tuberculosis.
Is TB In the United States?
Yes, there are people in the United States who live with tuberculosis, but it is highly unusual. The United States has one of the lowest rates of tuberculosis in the world. In 2020, approximately two out of every 100,000 people in the country were diagnosed with tuberculosis. If someone is diagnosed with TB in the United States, steps are taken to isolate that person to prevent that individual from passing the bacterial infection to somebody else. There are multiple antibiotics available to treat people who have been diagnosed with tuberculosis.