Video courtesy of TB Alert.org
Prior to being infected with Tuberculosis in my spine, I can shamefacedly say that I was not aware of ‘World TB Day’. This day which falls on 24 March every year is designed to build public awareness that tuberculosis today remains an epidemic in much of the world, causing the deaths of nearly one-and-a-half million people each year, mostly in developing countries. It provides the opportunity for affected persons and the communities in which they live, governments, non government organisations, healthcare providers, and international partners to call for further action to reach people who have been infected with TB.
World TB Day commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus.At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.
For me, this day is a memorable one as it reminds me of how I first learnt I had TB in my spine after suffering for many months with wrong diagnosis and ignorance. Looking back I realise the possibility of me having the mycobacterium in my body for a good number of years even though from every indication it was latent and only became active during pregnancy.
It was a few weeks after child birth that I had the rude awakening discovering my spine had been badly infected and as I did not quite depict common symptoms of Pulmonary TB (TB in the lungs), my doctors had ruled out this being a possibility at an earlier stage; so it was only until much later when I did not seem to get better and had begun to lose sensation in my legs, did I thankfully, get the appropriate checks (e.g.MRI scans) done and so the right diagnosis.
When I came through this illness which almost cost me my life and baby’s, I began to ponder on my experience and it became clear to me that not only was I unaware of Extra Pulmonary TB (TB occuring outside the lungs), my doctor’s were also ignorant about this variant of Tuberculosis as had they been aware, I would have been spared months of agony and more. This birthed the start of my two campaigns.
Be Enlightened about Spinal TB (B.E.S.T)||
Be Enlightened about Extra Pulmonary TB (B.E.E.P-TB)
It is true that this variant of TB is not as popular as Pulmonary TB, but the truth remains that there is a growing number of people suffering from it who don’t even know it due to lack of knowledge about its symptoms or because they are being wrongly diagnosed. From my experience and from the feedbacks I ‘ve received since the launch of my new book, it is clear that there are indeed many in the dark about Extra Pulmonary TB and these aforementioned reasons made me start up these awareness campaigns.
Through these, I reach out to anyone and everyone including schools, various meeting groups & forums, clinics, educating them through my experience and knowledge of TB and its variants.
Here are some facts about TB.
Tuberculosis (TB) is primarily a disease of the lungs (pulmonary TB), but can affect almost any organ in the body. The term extrapulmonary TB is used to describe the occurrence of TB at sites other than the lung. The most common sites of extrapulmonary TB are lymph nodes, urinary tract, spine, bones and joints, meninges and the central nervous system.
TB Variants & Characteristics
|Pulmonary TB||Extra Pulmonary TB|
|It is transmittable
Coughing for longer than 3 weeks
Sputum and blood at times
Fever and night sweats
Loss of appetite-weight loss
|It’s not transmittable
Persistently swollen lymph nodes
Mild to severe pain in the affected body part
Continuous pain and loss of movement in the affected bone or joint
In 2014, 6 million new cases of TB were reported to WHO, fewer than two-thirds (63%) of the 9.6 million people estimated to have fallen sick with the disease. This means that worldwide, 37% of new cases went undiagnosed or were not reported. The quality of care for people in the latter category is unknown.
• TB is spread through the air from one person to another.
• TB is not transmitted through food and water or by kissing, skin contact such as shaking hands, or by touching a toilet seat, or by sharing a toothbrush.
• TB bacteria can sometimes stay alive in the air for a few hours. Fresh air and sunlight make it harder for TB bacteria to stay alive. The fresh air scatters the bacteria and the sunlight kills them.
• TB can live in the body for years and decades.
• In 2014, 9.6 million people fell ill with TB and 1.5 million died from the disease.
• One million children (0-14 years) fell ill with TB, and 140, 000 children died from the disease in 2014.
• About one third of the world’s population is infected with tuberculosis bacteria and show no symptoms-this is known as latent TB.
• Tobacco use has been found to increase the risk of developing active TB with more than 20% of TB cases worldwide attributable to smoking.
• The most common diagnostic test for tuberculosis is a skin test while MRI scans is a valuable test for when extra pulmonary TB is suspected.
• TB can be treated with a combination of drugs that must usually be taken for at least six months.
• If TB is not treated it can be fatal.