The health department in Gauteng and the community of Bophelong have come out in big numbers to commemorate World Tuberculosis (TB) Day.
This day is usually celebrated on March 24 annually to spread the awareness about the infectious killer disease and to step up the efforts to end global TB outbreaks.
This year’s theme is “Invest in action to end TB now. Save lives”. TB is caused by the mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria that targets the lungs.
On Wednesday, community members in Bophelong volunteered to be screened for TB symptoms by the health officials at Sapphire High School.
Adults who are in their productive years are said to be most likely to be infected, and alcohol and tobacco smoking increases the chances of contracting the disease which is then spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and someone else inhales the expelled droplets that contain the TB bacteria.
Jody Boffa, an epidemiologist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said South Africa is one of 16 countries that account for 93% of the global TB burden.
Figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that over a quarter of a million children died from TB in 2020. Ten million more children fell ill with the disease that is rated as the 13th most deadly infection.
WHO explains on its website that those with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a higher risk of falling ill with TB.
When a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms including coughing, fever, night sweats, or weight loss. These symptoms can be mild for months, leading to sufferers not seeking out help immediately, and resulting in the spread of the disease.
The WHO explains that people with active TB can infect five to 15 other people through close contact over the course of a year and without proper treatment. They can also infect 45% of HIV-negative people on average.
Nearly all HIV-positive people infected with TB are likely to die.
— Gauteng Health (@GautengHealth) March 23, 2022
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