As we celebrate the WHO World TB Day on 24 March 2018, we need an up-to-date assessment of our efforts to control TB. The infection spreads when you breathe TB bacteria shed into the air by a patient with active disease. Such patients can spread disease by coughing, sneezing, or simply talking. Approximately 10% of people with latent TB infection, go on to develop active TB disease. People with a compromised immune system (such as HIV/AIDS patients), those who inject illicit drugs, and who have past history of inadequately treated TB have increased the risk of progression to active TB disease. Dr Shalu Verma Kumar, CORE Diagnostics sharing few facts about tuberculosis.

1. One-third of the world’s population is infected with this bacterium. Those infected may either carry latent TB (these people do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, can’t spread TB, and are usually positive in PPD skin test) or show active disease. Symptoms of active TB include coughing that lasts ≥3weeks, chest pain or coughing up of blood and sputum. Early symptoms may include unexplained weight loss, fever, fatigue, weakness, night sweats, chills etc. Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease variously named consumption, white plague, phthisis, or scrofula. It has been rampant in India, with the first cases being reported as early as 1500 BCE.

2. In 2016, 10.4 million people worldwide became ill with TB, with ~1.7 million people dying of it. As per the Global TB Report 2017, a whopping 26% of these deaths (4.23 lakhs) were reported from India. The incidence of TB in India remains high—2.790 million patients in 2016. However, the incidence has declined during the 2000-2016 period, such that the rate (2016) stood at 211/100000 population/year.

3. India led the world in the notification of new TB cases, with a 37% increase during the 2013–2016 period. The issues of HIV/AIDS, and multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) further complicate TB control in India. The government of India initiative ‘Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program’ (RNTCP) is tasked with TB control in India. India allocated US$ 525 million for TB prevention, diagnosis, and control in 2017. Plans are afoot to carry out a national TB prevalence study in 2018.

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