It commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch’s announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch’s discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that affects almost any part of the body but usually affects the lungs. The signs of TB are sudden weight loss, night sweats, feeling tired all the time and coughing for more than three weeks – usually bringing up thick spit or blood.
There are two types of TB – latent and active. In latent TB, the TB bacteria remain in the body in an inactive state. They cause no symptoms and are not contagious, but they can become active.
In active TB, the bacteria do cause symptoms and can be transmitted to others through coughing and spitting.
TB affects all age groups in all parts of the world. However, the disease mostly affects young adults.
The majority of TB cases can be cured when the right medication is available and administered correctly. People with latent TB may need just one kind of antibiotics, whereas people with active TB will often require a prescription of multiple drugs.
Antibiotics are usually required to be taken for a very long time. The standard length of time for a course of TB antibiotics is about six months.
Last year in the Cook Islands, no TB cases were detected. In past years, most of the TB cases detected in the Cook Islands were foreigners, with one or two being Cook Islanders.
The thing to remember is that TB is preventable and curable. Someone with TB can live a normal life, enjoying both work and leisure time.
The Cook Islands Ministry of Health’s goal is to eliminate TB in the Cook Islands by 2035. Help us stop TB – together we can make it happen.
The 2018 World TB Day theme is: ‘Leaders for a TB-free world. You can make history: End TB’.