Killer disease on Loose: India grappling with Tuberculosis

Image: Tuberculosis spread across countries recreated using R and Google graphs based on data from Worldhealthexpectancy.com

Even though Tuberculosis is preventable and treatable, it remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease. India has the highest burden of Tuberculosis in the world. In 2015 alone, 2.8 million cases of TB was reported and 480,000 people died from it. India had 130,000 multi-drug resistant TB patients in 2015, the highest in the world. 60 percent of the total number of Tuberculosis cases comes from six countries and India is on top followed by Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa. 40% of India’s population, which accounts to around 50 crore, have Latent Tuberculosis. Latent TB infection means a person have infectious agent present in him, but would not show any evidence of active disease as long as his immunity stays strong!.

In a TED Talk on ‘India’s Tuberculosis crisis’, Zarir F Udwadia, a leading expert on TB and chest physician at the Hinduja Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai, called it, “Ebola with wings.”….. 

The situation at this moment in India looks grim as number of patients with multi-drug resistant TB and extensively drug-resistant TB is on rise.

The situation at this moment in India looks grim as number of patients with multi-drug resistant TB and extensively drug-resistant TB is on rise. As per latest report almost one in five cases of TB  shows resistance to at least one major anti-TB drug.

What is Tuberculosis ?

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis that affects the lungs. It can also spread to other parts of the body, like the brain and spine. Mycobacterium is an airborne pathogen, hence TB can spread through the air from person to person.

There are two forms of the disease:

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