South Africa has seen an increase of 20% in Tuberculosis (TB) cases over the last year. According to the 2020 World Health Organization (WHO) TB Report, 360 000 people fell ill with TB in South Africa. We take a closer look at what is TB and how to it can be prevented?
WHO estimates a 20% increase in TB cases in South Africa
According to the WHO, the number of people with TB in South Africa increased by 20% from 2018 to 2019. It is estimated that 301 000 people fell ill with TB in 2018 whilst the number increased to 360 000 cases in 2019.
It is interesting that the increase may not be due to an increase number of TB cases, but due to better data showing the actual number of diagnosed cases. South Africa ranks eighth in the highest absolute number of TB cases in the world for 2019.
The good news is that fewer people are dying from TB. According to the WHO, 63 000 TB patients died in 2018 in comparison to 58 000 deaths in 2019 in SA. This may be due to preventative therapy in the form of certain medication.
It is estimated that a total of 10 million people across the globe fell ill with TB in 2019 whilst 1.4 million people died of TB.
What is TB?
One can get TB after inhaling the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria when coming into close contact with someone who has TB. The bacteria affect the lungs and may cause abdominal pain, confusion, headaches, seizures and swollen lymph nodes.
There are two types of TB:
- Latent TB
- Active TB
If someone has latent TB, they may never develop symptoms. This means that the person’s immune system is containing the bacteria, which prevents it from replicating. The person may have TB but it is latent and there is no risk of infecting others. A proper diagnosis is performed with a blood test or skin prick test.
Active TB is when someone’s body cannot contain the TB bacteria and is able to spread the infection. In this case, a person may experience fatigue, fever, chills, cough and loss of appetite and weight.
TB is most common in people with weakened immune systems, especially after using certain medication like recreational drugs. It is very important to maintain a strong immune system.
Early warning signs of TB are coughing blood, fatigue, swelling in the neck, fever, night sweats, chest pain, a persistent cough etc.
In conclusion, TB can potentially be life threatening and it is advisable to receive appropriate treatment. If detected early, most TB cases are treatable. Book an appointment with any one of Kiaat Hospital’s exceptional health care professionals to be on the safe side.