Tuberculosis has been antibiotic resistant almost since antibiotics were invented. Although some vaccines exist, like the flu tuberculosis changes frequently. Developing a more comprehensive vaccine is one effort that is being made to slow tuberculosis infection rates.
Although tuberculosis has been a rare disease in the United States, it’s still rampant in other countries, especially developing worlds where there’s a concentration of people with weakened immune systems, due to lack of food or having other diseases like AIDs.
In the last year instances of tuberculosis in the US have increased, notably with an outbreak at a New York high school.
Spread through the air, tuberculosis is highly contagious when someone has an active infection. Tuberculosis symptoms normally affect the lungs, so coughing and sneezing spread tuberculosis quickly.
Many people have latent infections, though, which mean they show no tuberculosis symptoms but may still be able to transmit the disease, or develop an active infection if their immune systems weaken.
Tuberculosis symptoms often start out mild, allowing the disease to become severe before the long and arduous treatments are even begun.
⅓ of the world population has latent tuberculosis, and about 5-10% of the US population does, with a 10% risk overall for the development of an active infection. Smoking or using other types of tobacco doubles the risk to 20%.
The only way to prevent the onset of tuberculosis symptoms is to keep the immune system strong, and to watch for and catch symptoms early. If one person in a community becomes infected (as in New York), it becomes more important for everyone else to beware their own risk, and to monitor for tuberculosis symptoms.
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