Tuberculosis or TB (short for tubercles bacillus) is a common and often deadly infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis in humans. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body.
It is spread through the air, when people who have the disease cough, sneeze, or spit. Most infections in humans result in an asymptomatic, latent infection, and about one in ten latent infections eventually progresses to active disease, which, if left untreated, kills more than 50% of its victims.
An anteroposterior X-ray of a patient diagnosed with advanced bilateral pulmonary tuberculosis. This AP X-ray of the chest reveals the presence of bilateral pulmonary infiltrate (white triangles), and „caving formation“ (black arrows) present in the right apical region.The diagnosis is far-advanced tuberculosis.
The classic symptoms are a chronic cough with blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Infection of other organs causes a wide range of symptoms.
Diagnosis relies on radiology (commonly chest X-rays), a tuberculin skin test, blood tests, as well as microscopic examination and microbiological culture of bodily fluids. Treatment is difficult and requires long courses of multiple antibiotics. Contacts are also screened and treated if necessary. Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in (extensively) multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. Prevention relies on screening programs and vaccination, usually with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine.
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