Tuberculosis; Tubercle Bacillus


Tuberculosis is an infection that often can become deadly. Tuberculosis is caused by the bacteria known as mycobacteria. Tuberculosis can attack the lungs, the central nervous system, the lymphatic system, the circulatory system, the genitourinary system, the gastrointestinal system, bones, joints and the skin at times. The specific name of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis is mycobacteria tuberculosis. Symptoms of the disease are a chronic cough, blood in the phlegm, night sweats, fever and unexplained weight loss. Tuberculosis can be spread through the air very easily. People with the disease can send the disease through the air when they cough, spit or sneeze.

There are a variety of tests that doctors need to perform before diagnosing tuberculosis. They include a chest x-ray, tuberculin skin tests, blood tests and a microscopic examination and microbiological cultures of body fluids. Treating tuberculosis is a difficult process for doctors and patients. It entails various antibiotics. Sometimes there are strains of tuberculosis that can be resistant to antibiotics. Preventing tuberculosis involves screenings and getting oneself vaccinated against the disease.

Tuberculosis is a disease that has been affecting not only human beings but also animals for over 18,000 years. Mummies entombed in Egypt have been examined and it has been scientifically proven that some of those mummies, when alive, were infected with the disease as evidenced by remnants of it in their spine. Scientists have also found strains of tuberculosis in the remains of bison that date back to 18,000 years before the present date. The one thing scientists still aren’t sure of is how tuberculosis developed over the past thousands of years. They aren’t sure if it developed from cattle and then spread to humans or if it spread from an ancestor to other humans and then animals.

The very first doctor to identify tuberculosis as a contagious disease was Ibn Sina in the 1020s. He wrote “The Canon of Medicine.” He is also responsible for developing the method of quarantine to avoid the spread of the disease or any other contagious disease. There was thought at one point that tuberculosis would be eradicated across the globe because the number of cases was beginning to drop appreciably. In 1987, cases of tuberculosis in Great Britain numbered 5,000 after numbering 117,000 in 1913. But then in 2000 the number of cases rose again to 6,300 and the number rose again in 2005 to 7,600.

The recent rise in tuberculosis cases, especially in the 1980s, is somewhat credited to the rise in HIV and patients with tuberculosis not finishing their medicine or treatment regimens assigned by a doctor. People would be heading back to the workplace and other public places before being completely healed of the condition and would begin to infect others by coughing, sneezing and spitting the contagious strain into the air around them.

As of right now it looks as if tuberculosis will never be eradicated on a worldwide stage because of the development of drug-resistant strains. This makes it difficult for doctors to treat their patients because antibiotics will not do the trick in curing the disease.