Tuberculosis is a disease caused by the bacteria called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. These bacteria can be spread by an infected person coughing, sneezing, singing or talking. This spreads the airborne droplets, which in turn are inhaled by people in the vicinity. This generally occurs over a prolonged period of time. There are two different stages of TB, the first being latent TB,when a person inhales the bacteria and becomes infected but the immune system contains the infection, one does not develop any symptoms or spread the disease. Once an individual’s immune system, becomes severely compromised due to HIV/AIDS, Cancer or Pregnancy, to mention but a few, the bacteria can become Active (Active TB, Stage 2). Once the bacteria has become Active the individual will then become ill and develop symptoms.
There are a number of ways to do tuberculosis testing. The most common test that is performed is called an AFB (Acid Fast Bacilli) Sputum test. One can also perform the following tests; TB Gold blood test, Chest X Ray, Clinical examination or a molecular line probe assay. The reason there are so many ways to test for TB is due to the fact that although approximately 80% of TB cases present in the lungs, one can also get Extra Pulmonary TB, that could affect the following organs; Abdomen, Genitourinary tract, Skin, Joints, Bones, Lymph nodes and Meninges to name a few.
Treatment regimens are based on the patient, the type of TB and other factors that could impact the patient’s health and recovery. Some Patients present with Multi Drug resistant TB for which the World Health Organization recommends treatment for up to 20 months. One could also develop Multi drug Resistant TB by defaulting on their treatment. This is why it is of the utmost importance that the patient complies with treatment and reports to the Clinic/Doctor for follow up appointments, on going tests and medication.
Once a patient is started on TB treatment they are still considered contagious. The employee must return for an AFB sputum test; once the patient has tested negative on the sputum test they are no longer considered contagious but still have TB, they have to complete the course of treatment in order to ensure that they do not relapse and that all of the bacteria has been killed.
Due to the fact that TB is considered an Occupational Health Disease it is important that employees and employers alike know how the Disease is spread, how testing is done and how treatment works in order to ensure a healthy and productive workforce.
Symptoms & Statistics
- Fever and/or night sweats
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- General feeling of malaise
- Persistent cough for three week or more
- Chest Pain or shortness of breath
- Sputum could be blood stained
- Abnormal Chest X-Ray Results
According to the Global Tuberculosis Report 2013 (Case Notifications 2012 for South Africa) there were 349 582 notified cases of TB.
Of these 349 582 cases
296 996 were New Cases
26 668 were Relapse Cases
25 918 were Retreatment Cases
Working Knowledge International can provide tuberculosis testing and education for your employees.