Active tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness that primarily affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body such as the brain, spine, and kidneys. Active TB is highly contagious and can be spread from person to person through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
When someone is infected with M. tuberculosis, their immune system may be able to control the infection and prevent the development of active TB. However, if the immune system is weakened, such as in people with HIV or malnutrition, the bacteria can multiply and cause active TB.
The symptoms of active TB can include a persistent cough that lasts more than three weeks, coughing up blood, chest pain, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. In some cases, there may be no symptoms or only mild symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose and treat the disease.
Diagnosis of active TB is typically done through a combination of medical history, physical examination, chest X-rays, and sputum tests to detect the presence of the bacteria. Treatment usually involves a combination of antibiotics taken over several months to kill the bacteria and prevent the development of drug-resistant strains.
It is important to note that active TB can be prevented and controlled through measures such as early detection, prompt treatment, and infection control practices such as wearing a mask and practicing good hygiene to prevent the spread of the bacteria. Vaccination with the BCG vaccine can also provide some protection against TB, although it is not universally recommended and its effectiveness varies depending on the population and the type of TB.