symptoms for active pulmonary are often atypic and are to be interpreted with an epidemic investigation.
Tuberculosis is a worldwide spread and lethal infectious disease, which can affect many parts of the human body, the most common is the pulmonary form. We shall deal today with this form, the most infectious.
Three types of this pulmonary disease are now spreading, a first form known at least from the last century, against which a range of antibiotics are efficient, another new type which was diagnosed at the end of the last century, the resistant or multiresistant form (called XDR TB), which resists to this first range of medications, and a new one which is spreading and is a real threat, the ultraresistant form, potientally incurable and lethal. All these three forms of pulmonary TB are infectious.
Another point to be considered is that tuberculosis can be inactive (latent) or active: that means that someone who has been exposed to tb bacteria will be tested as "positive", yet being neither ill neither infectious; but one day, at an average rate of 10% maximum, depending on many circumstances, this person can turn active, and become ill and infectious. So when someone is tested as "positive", most practioners recommand a preventive treatment.
What are the symptoms for the pulmonary form of tuberculosis?
The difficulty is that this disease offers atypic symptoms most times, and we get a hint it can likely be TB only by suspicion and other informations (as AIDS, close contact with an active TB patient, or first form of the TB previously diagnosed, and often with an interruption of the treatment).
symptoms commonly quoted as signs for a possible active tuberculosis (associated or not)
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Low persistent fever, chills
- Sweating during night
- Coughing for weeks
- Bloodish coughing an sputum (the well known symptom in the late centuries)
- Cavitation on chest radiograph.
By this list, one sees that most of the symptoms can be linked to many pathologies ... It often happens, even in hospital wards, that active and infectious patients are not diagnosed until a severe sequence of symptoms gives a serious alert - and then, a nurse or family member or other patients are yet contaminated.
Given that the multiresistant and ultraresistant forms now require months or even years of strict respiratory isolation and high cost treatments which can be as unbearable as chimiotherapy, the earliest diagnosis of an active tb is a priority.
If these symptoms occur, linked to a suspicion of contact or previous forms, the rule is now that the 'suspected TB patient" is immediately isolated (single closed room, appropriate respirators for everyone entering the room, and so on), waiting for the laboratory tests ("positive acid-fast bacilli (AFB) sputum smear result").
Needless to say, the most lethal and resistant forms are prevalent mainly in countries as Africa, Eastern Asia, Peru, and former USSR republics. But occasionally, they appear in Western countries, Northern America and ECC.
Bibliography and links : many healthcare public systems provide a web page of information about TB, check your own country; many hospitals provide powerpoint-pdf leaflets or video training for their healthcare workers, but they are not public, generally speaking. Some Youtube videos are available at times, the reliable videos are indeed those edited by hospitals.
http://www.cdc.gov/tb/, a site that provides many useful informations, news, FAQS and links, most of public access..
http://www.stoptb.org/; one can subscribe to their mailing list.