Tuberculosis, caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is a chronic infectious disease and is one of the leading causes of death in South Africa.
South Africa has one of the highest reported rates of TB infections in the world. Other countries with significant rates of TB infection include Pakistan, Nigeria, China, Indonesia and India, according to a 2015 World Health Organisation (WHO) report. Three of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries are included on that list – SA, India and China.
People living with HIV are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop active TB than people who are HIV negative, according to WHO, which recommends a 12-component approach of collaborative TB-HIV activities, including actions for prevention and treatment of infection and disease, to reduce deaths.
Here are ways to tell when you have TB and need to receive medical assistance immediately:
- A bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer is a sign that this is not merely a severe cold.
- Moreover, you should expect to cough up blood or mucus from deep inside the lungs, known as sputum.
- You feel a pain in the chest, and if the TB infection occurs outside the lungs (extrapulmonary TB), pain can be felt in the back if the TB occurs in the spine or neck when the lymph nodes in the neck are infected.
- A TB infection results in weakness, constant fatigue and a fever.
- Your body sweats excessively at night.
- It causes a loss of appetite. You rapidly lose weight, also partly because of the loss of appetite.