#WorldTBDay is Today, March 24th.
It is an annual event that commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB).
This year, theme of the day is “United to End TB” and the Expansion of Latent Tuberculosis Infection (LTBI) testing and treatment is what is promoted as the best way to #EndTB.
This is because about one-third of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease.
According to WHO, LTBI is a state of persistent immune response to stimulation by Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens without evidence of clinically manifested active TB.
People infected with TB bacteria have a 10% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutrition or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a much higher risk of falling ill.
Because there are less bacteria, treatment for LBTI is much easier than treatment for TB disease.
One treatment option for latent TB infection is Isoniazid (INH), which takes 6 to 9 months to kill the TB bacteria. Another effective treatment option is the 12-dose regimen of INH and rifapentine (RPT), taken once a week for 3 months under directly observed therapy (DOT)- consistent observation of a patient by a health worker.
NOTE: Many people who have latent TB infection never develop TB disease. But, these people need to know the symptoms of TB disease; so that if they develop symptoms of the TB disease, they would see a doctor right away.
Warning: Frequent or heavy drinking of alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, and liquor) while taking treatment for latent TB infection can be dangerous. Check with your doctor or nurse for more information.
For more information on Latent TB Infection (LTBI) visit: https://www.cdc.gov/tb/publications/ltbi/diagnosis.htm