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About TB

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that are spread from person to person through the air.
TB usually affects the lung (pulmonary TB), but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine (extra pulmonary TB).

TB germs are expelled into the air when a person with TB infection of the lungs coughs or sneezes. These germs can stay in the air for several hours, depending on the environment. Persons who breathe in the air containing these TB germs can become infected; this is called TB infection. When the immunity of a person with TB infection weakens they may develop TB disease.

  • A cough that lasts more than 2 weeks
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • General weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Symptoms of extra pulmonary TB depend on the area affected

A person suspected to have TB disease should submit 2 sputum samples for examination. One sample should be on the spot and the other early in the morning before taking breakfast.

Taking a combination of several drugs for 6 months can treat TB disease. It is very important that people who have TB disease complete the treatment course, and take the drugs exactly as prescribed to avoid recurrence of the disease or development of resistance to the drugs.

TB that is resistant to drugs is harder and more expensive to treat. It is important that the health worker meets with regularly the patient in the course of treatment to monitor their progress.

Irregular treatment can lead to drug resistance TB. MDR-TB Multi Drug Resistant-TB is highly infectious. It is about 100 times more expensive to treat, with treatment taking 24 months in strict isolation wards and no guarantee for cure.

The Key prevention measure is to find and treat all TB patients. Other measures include:

  • Proper Ventilation: over crowded and poorly ventilated houses, public service vehicles, hostels, prisons, offices etc could be a source of TB infection. Proper and adequate lighting Good personal
  • Hygiene: Always cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief when coughing, spitting or sneezing.
  • Stop Smoking: Smoking and exposure to second hand smoke attributes to 20% of the global TB Burden.

TB and HIV are overlapping diseases. TB is the leading killer of HIV/AIDS patients in Africa. HIV makes TB 30 times more likely to activate. An HIV positive person has 50% chance of developing TB in a lifetime.

If you are HIV positive and contract TB, your average survival time is 5-6 weeks unless you receive treatment. HIV infection is the greatest risk factor for TB. In Kenya, about 60% of TB patients are HIV positive.

Knowing your HIV status once a TB diagnosis has been made will guide your healthcare provider in picking out the best treatment course for you.

TB screening and Treatment is offered FREE OF CHARGE at all Government Health Facilities as well as in some faith based health facilities. The service is also offered by Private Health facilities at a subsidized cost through the PPM project.

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