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Tuberculosis Essay

4836 words - 20 pages


The Saskatchewan Lung Association (2007) once said about tuberculosis "Over the centuries since Hippocrates, tuberculosis has been known as a major scourge of the human species." During the first half of the 20th Century, TB was called "consumption" or "white plague", and it was the number one killer of Canadians. The historic menace of the "White Plague" prevailed for so many centuries because people had a poor understanding of the disease and poor medical tools with which to fight it. But, what exactly is tuberculosis?


Tuberculosis (TB), like the common cold, is an airborne virus. Though it appears in various forms, ...view middle of the document...

Lack of medical care: If a person who is on a low or fixed income, lives in a remote area, has recently immigrated to the United States, or is homeless, may lack access to the medical care needed to diagnose and treat TB.

Living or working in a residential care facility: People who live or work in prisons, immigration centers or nursing homes, anywhere where there is overcrowding and poor ventilation, are all at the risk of catching TB.

Living in a refugee camp or shelter: Weakened by poor nutrition and ill health and living in crowded, unsanitary conditions, refugees are at especially high risk of TB infection.

Health care work: Regular contact with people who are ill increases the chances of exposure to TB bacteria. Wearing a mask and frequent hand washing greatly reduce the risk.

International travel: As people migrate and travel widely, they may expose others or be exposed to TB bacteria.


The World Health Organization (WHO, 2007) estimates that the largest number of new TB cases in 2005 occurred in the South-East Asia Region, which accounted for 34% of incident cases globally. However, the estimated incidence rate in sub-Saharan Africa is nearly twice that of the South-East Asia Region, at nearly 350 cases per 100 000 population.

It is estimated that 1.6 million deaths resulted from TB in 2005. Both the highest number of deaths and the highest mortality per capita are in the Africa Region. The TB epidemic in Africa grew rapidly during the 1990s, but this growth has been slowing each year, and incidence rates now appear to have stabilized or begun to fall.

In 2005, estimated per capita TB incidence was stable or falling in all six WHO regions. However, the slow decline in incidence rates per capita is offset by population growth. Consequently, the number of new cases arising each year is still increasing globally and in the WHO regions of Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia.

Estimated TB Incidence, Prevalence and Mortality, 2005



TB Mortality

All forms


WHO region

number (thousands)

per 100�000 pop

number (thousands)

per 100�000 pop

number (thousands)

per 100�000 pop

number (thousands)

per 100�000 pop

(% of global total)


2 529 (29)


1 088


3 773




The Americas

352 (4)








Eastern Mediterranean

565 (6)









445 (5)








South-East Asia

2 993 (34)


1 339


4 809




Western Pacific

1 927 (22)




3 616





8 811 (100)


3 902



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