At the recent National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Philadelphia, researchers from Stanford University presented their findings on a new test they have developed for tuberculosis (TB) which offers a promising new quick and easy diagnostic tool for doctors in developing nations.
The World Health Organization
classifies TB as one of the top killer infectious diseases affecting people around the world. In 2014 alone, 9.6 million people became infected with the disease, and 1.5 million of them died from the illness. One million of those infected, and 140,000 of those who died, were children.
TB is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis
, which most often attacks the lungs but can also affect other organs. Pulmonary TB infections may cause symptoms in the lungs such as a bad and prolonged cough, pain in the chest, and coughing up of blood or phlegm from deep inside the lungs. In addition to those symptoms, people infected with TB may experience weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, chills and night sweats.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, TB spreads from person to person when a person who is infected releases the bacteria into the air by coughing, speaking, or singing. When a healthy person breathes in the TB bacteria, it can enter into the lungs and other parts of the body and begin to multiply. Although the body can often fight latent TB bacteria that enter the body, thus preventing illness, the bacteria can become active and multiply in those individuals who are unable to fight the infection, such as those with weakened immune systems, young children, individuals who have been in parts of the world with higher rates of TB, and those who work with people at high risk for TB.
Individuals with latent TB infection still need treatment to prevent the onset of disease, and up to 10% of individuals who don’t receive treatment will go on to develop TB at some point in their lifetime. Latent TB treatments are often administered for several months to prevent the onset of disease.