“Tuberculosis kills an estimated 4.8 lakh Indians every year, or more than 1,400 every day. There were about 24.04 lakh TB patients notified in 2019, a 14 per cent rise over the year 2018,” said Dr Parth Shah, a pulmonologist who consults on Practo.
According to the online doctor consultation platform, most queries related to tuberculosis came from people belonging to 31-40 years of age followed by 21-30-year-olds. Top metro cities from where most queries came (in 2019) included Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Pune. Additionally, out of the total queries, 60 per cent came from men.
“Keeping the above facts in mind, it is safe to say that India is the highest burdened country for tuberculosis. In India today, two deaths occur every three minutes from tuberculosis. But these deaths can be prevented with proper care and treatment. TB patients can be cured and the battle against the condition can be won,” Dr Shah told indianexpress.com.
On World Tuberculosis Day, which is observed on March 24 every year, he debunks some common myths;
Myth #1: Tuberculosis is hereditary
Fact: Tuberculosis is not hereditary. TB is an airborne disease that is spread when a person with active TB coughs, laughs, sneezes, or sings, breathing out tiny infected particles into the air. The particles may then be inhaled by others nearby.
Myth #2: If someone with tuberculosis coughs, I will automatically contact it.
Fact: TB is not easily contracted. You have to be in close contact with someone who has TB for a long time (usually many hours or days).
Myth #3: Tuberculosis only occurs in lower socioeconomic groups.
Fact: Tuberculosis can be contracted by anyone, although certain populations such as immigrants, people with reduced immunity, the elderly, the homeless, and others are at a greater risk. Individuals in contact with these people are also at risk.
Myth #4: Tuberculosis infection leads to disease
Fact: Not everyone who is infected with TB develops the disease. In most people, the immune system clears the bacteria and stops them from multiplying.
Myth #5: TB is caused by excessive smoking.
Fact: Smokers are predisposed to developing respiratory diseases. However, TB is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. So smoking increases the risk of developing tuberculosis.
Myth #6: Tuberculosis affects only the lungs.
Fact: No. TB can occur in any organ of the body. The most common organ affected by TB is lung and lymph nodes.
Myth #7: Tuberculosis can be detected by blood and radiological (Xray/Ct scan) investigations.
Fact: TB can not be 100 per cent detected by these tests. Blood investigations and radiological investigations are supplementary tests. The final diagnosis for pulmonary tuberculosis is the Sputum test or any secretions from the lung, and for other sites, tissue examinations.
Myth #8: TB is not curable.
Fact: TB is curable when early and proper diagnosis and medicines are given. Also, when a full course of treatment has been taken by a patient.