Infectious Diseases

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.  

TB is spread through the air from one person to another.

TB bacteria can live in the body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection. In most people who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. People with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB bacteria to others. However, if TB bacteria become active in the body and multiply, the person will go from having latent TB infection to being sick with TB disease.

When TB bacteria are active (multiplying in your body), this is called TB disease. People with TB disease are sick. They may also be able to spread the bacteria to other people.

Symptoms of TB (lung disease) include
  • A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • Pain in the chest
  • Coughing up blood or sputum

Other symptoms- weakness, weight loss, no appetite, low fever, chills, sweating at night. Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

Testing for TB infection
  • Tuberculin skin test: A positive TB skin test or TB blood test only tells that a person has been infected with TB bacteria.  It does not tell whether the person has latent TB infection or has progressed to TB disease. Other tests, such as a chest x-ray and a sample of sputum, are needed to see whether the person has TB disease.
  • TB blood tests: TB blood tests measure how strong a person’s immune system reacts to TB bacteria by testing the person’s blood in a laboratory. A positive test means that the person has been infected with TB bacteria.  Additional tests are needed to determine if the person has latent TB infection or TB disease.
Treatment for TB:
  • Latent TB infection: Treatment of latent TB infection reduces the risk that TB infection will progress to TB disease. Because there are less bacteria in a person with latent TB infection, treatment is much easier.
  • TB disease: TB disease can be treated by taking several drugs, usually for 6 to 9 months. It is very important to finish the medicine, and take the drugs exactly as prescribed. If you stop taking the drugs too soon, you can become sick again. If you do not take the drugs correctly, the germs that are still alive may become resistant to those drugs. TB that is resistant to drugs is harder and more expensive to treat.

For more information on TB, please visit CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/tb/default.htm

Resources: Travel vaccines:
Vaccinations for travel to South Asian countries

Vaccine information in south asia languages: Malaria prevention

Malaria can be prevented by taking anti-malarial prescription drugs. You will need to discuss with your doctor the best ways for you to avoid getting sick with malaria: http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/drugs.html

Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in India and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.

Disclaimer

The purpose of the South Asian Total Health Initiative is to improve the delivery  of culturally responsive, family-centered care to diverse populations. SATHI provides technical assistance/consultation, education/training, and research/evaluation services. SATHI does not provide medical advice or clinical professional services. Any medical assistance or other decisions should be made in consultation with your physicians. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey will not be liable for any complications, injuries, or other medical accidents arising from or in connection with the use of or reliance upon any information obtained from this website or on the Internet.