GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the ministry, says Tuberculosis (TB) is a preventable and curable disease.
TB is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable. TB mostly affects adults; however, all age groups are at risk.
TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze, or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers.
People infected with TB bacteria have a 10% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as persons living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or persons who use tobacco, more likely have a much higher risk of falling ill.
When a person develops active TB disease, the symptoms (such as cough, fever, night sweats, or weight loss) may be mild for many months. This can lead to delays in seeking care, and results in transmission of the bacteria to others.
CPS would like to bring forward the following awareness about TB in order to prevent, avoid spreading TB to others, and how important it is to use medication to cure yourself.
Prevention is also important when diagnosed with TB. Cough or sneeze in a napkin/tissue paper and dispose properly in the garbage. If you sneeze or cough in your hands, wash or sanitize your hands.
Avoid exposing yourself to people with active TB. Obviously the most important precaution you can take to prevent TB is to avoid being around people with active TB, which is highly contagious, especially if you have already tested positive for latent TB. Latent TB is when a person is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but the person is not contagious and has no symptoms.
Don’t spend long periods of time with anyone who has an active TB infection, especially if they have been receiving treatment for less than two weeks. In particular, it is important to avoid spending time with TB patients in warm, stuffy rooms or closed spaces. The room must have good ventilation and the persons should isolate themself from family members in order to prevent the spread of TB.
If you are forced to be around TB patients, for example if you work in a care facility where TB is currently being treated, you will need to take protective measures, such as wearing a face mask, to avoid breathing in the TB bacteria. You must adhere to the care facility guidelines.
If a friend or family member has active TB, you can help to rid them of the disease and lessen your own risk of contracting the disease by ensuring that they strictly follow their medical instructions and treatment.
It is absolutely essential that you finish whatever course of medication your doctor prescribes. Failing to do so gives the TB bacteria a chance to mutate, making the bacteria much more resistant to medications, and therefore more deadly.
Finishing your course of medications is important and the safest option not only for you, but for those around you