How can you get tuberculosis?

Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Mycobacterium tuberculosis

In short, you can get Tuberculosis from being in the presence of a high concentration of the tuberculosis bacteria in the air, without the proper airway protections and in particular if you have a compromised immune system.

Tuberculosis is a widespread infectious-contagious disease caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is an airborne disease.

It is a major cause of death worldwide and it is an important public health issue.

The lungs are clearly the organ that are most affected by tuberculosis, but others are also affected, like: pleura, lymph nodes, bones, meninges, the uro-genital apparatus, etc.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis also has the name of Koch, hence Koch’s Disease, another name for Pulmonary Tuberculosis (TB).

How can you get tuberculosis?

The transmission from person to person of the Koch bacillus, the bacteria that are responsible for causing tuberculosis, is done through inhalation.

Bacillus are bacteria that are rod-shaped

Sneeze particles suspendedThe airborne transmission is done by microscopic particles called “dropping nuclei”, which can occur when people with pulmonary tuberculosis cough, sneeze or talk.

Because these droplets are so small, the air flow normally present in a room keeps them suspended in the air for a long time.  Their size is small enough for the 2 to 3 bacilli that they usually contain to reach the lungs where they can multiply.

Patients with pulmonary tuberculosis can also produce larger particles, but they are not as important in the transmission of the disease. They do not remain suspended for a long time, and even if they are inhaled by other people, their size does not allow them to get into the lungs.

Transmission of pulmonary tuberculosis is determined by four factors:

  • the existence and number of overall bacilli in the air,
  • their concentration, which in turn depends on the room volume and ventilation,
  • the duration of exposure of a healthy person who breathes contaminated air,
  • the immune status of the exposed person.

For healthy people, the immune defense reaction can prevent multiplication of bacilli and the appearance of the disease.

Patients with HIV infection, alcoholism, kidney disease, diabetes, neoplasms, and those who consume drugs have a lower defense capacity and therefore a much higher risk of developing tuberculosis

It has a low incidence in developed countries and increased incidence in Africa, South-East and Eastern Europe.

Romania ranked first in the European Union in 2008 and ranked fourth in Europe after Kazakstan, the Republic of Moldova and Kyrgyzstan.


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