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TB is still a medical concern in Mexico
Zoomed-in image of the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis - Image courtesy of the UNAM

TB is still a medical concern in Mexico

28/03/2018
15:09
Newsroom
Mexico City
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Tuberculosis used to be a disease present in remote populations yet in recent years, cases have been registered in low-income areas of big cities

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease, the ninth cause of death worldwide, and the leading cause of death due to a single infectious agent, even surpassing the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

TB in Mexico hasn't been fully eradicated; the number of deaths has been reduced by over 45% but the incidence rate of cases hasn't fluctuated, according to Antonia Castillo Rodal, of the Microbiology and Parasitology Department of the Faculty of Medicine.

According to the figures of Mexico's Ministry of Health, there are 2,000 to 2,500 deaths a year, and over 19,000 new cases are reported every year.

TB has always been a serious health concern. “There is no country free [of TB cases] whether it is developed or not, and despite the bacteria – Mycobacterium tuberculosis – was discovered over a century ago,” claimed the expert, adding that it has evolved and developed a resistance to last-gen treatments, which is an obstacle to control it.

While TB used to be a disease present in remote populations, in recent years cases have been recorded in low-income areas of big cities.

The disease is highly-contagious as it is spread from person to person through the air, that is, through coughs, sneezes, or even while talking. People ill with TB may infect 10 to 15 people more without any of them finding out they have contracted the disease, explained Castillo.

However, she clarifies that while a third of the world's population is considered to have been infected, only 10% will develop the active version of the disease and “thus far no study can prove that people with latent TB are capable of infecting others.”

Castillo states that in 85% of the bacteria infects the lungs, while in the rest of the cases it can attack other organs or tissues. In the case of the lungs, however, advanced symptoms often include coughing and hemoptysis (cough up blood); as for the other organs – usually kidneys or bones – there may be fevers, fatigue, weight loss, and other alternations depending on the infected organ.

TB is curable and treatment usually consists of a six-month treatment with drugs, in which relatives of a patient have to be screened as well. There is also a vaccine available to prevent the disease, which has to be given to infants during the first hours after their birth.

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