World TB Month: The clock is ticking
Prevalent in South Africa, Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by the organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis that primarily affects the lungs and continues to claim many lives. Around the world, TB kills close to 4,000 people every day, among them 700 children. That means that 3 people die from TB every minute!
Commemorated annually in March, and specifically on March 24, the world stands together to raise awareness about the devastating impacts of TB and share strategic measures to overcome this disease. Current global statistics of TB cases indicate that the world has yet to triumph against this bacterium and that the disease is still spreading rapidly.
The severity of Covid-19 has compromised the fight against TB, resulting in the shifting of medical resources and attention away from this millennia-old bacterial disease and away from providing much-needed early diagnosis and treatment to TB sufferers.
This year’s theme ‘The Clock is Ticking’ serves as a reminder and indicator to the world that the time to implement commitments made to the fight against TB is running out. World leaders have until December 2022 to make good on their words, or we risk losing thousands of lives to a curable and preventable disease. We at the SRC, remain committed and continue to play our part towards ending TB.
With proven and reputable experience in TB clinical research which includes treatment, prevention, and diagnoses of Tuberculosis, SRC intends to continue actively supporting the cause to end TB by promoting awareness through community engagement focusing on the items listed below;
- TB testing and screening to identify TB cases
- Enhancing the detection of TB in children
- Improving HIV counseling and testing
- Promoting healthy lifestyle
These programs will be completed in collaboration with local clinics in the area while maintaining adherence to all COVID-19 protocols and safety measures.
Setshaba Research Centre (SRC) TB Migration study
Far from giving up the fight against TB, Setshaba Research Centre is conducting a study in collaboration with the John Hopkins University & PHRU (Limpopo), titled “Innovative contact tracing strategies for detecting TB in mobile, rural, and urban South African populations”.
This study entails tracing the household contacts of participants who are infected with TB, recruited from different clinics and hospitals in Limpopo and Soshanguve.
The study approach is centred on the influence of known and proven patterns of people’s movements and migrations in and around sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the world.
It has been known that the younger generation who are at the highest risk of contracting and transmitting TB often move from rural to urban areas, spending their evenings after work in their urban homes, and returning to their rural families for major holidays.
A brief overview of the study is outlined below:
- The recruited TB confirmed participant is consented into the study, and a sputum sample collected which is sent for liquid MGIT culture to perform whole genome sequencing.
- Trained study teams will visit the household contacts of the consented case.
- At the household, teams will recruit consenting household members of all ages.
- Study questionnaires are completed – Specifically, mobility questions will focus on spatial and temporal movement patterns over the previous year and will include a variety of questions surrounding this.
- Each participant will be screened for TB. Results on Xpert testing will be monitored by study staff. Participants will be notified either by phone or in person at a household visit if they have tested positive for TB and referred to the nearest public-sector clinic for treatment.
Did you know that TB may be classified according to the natural history of the disease into Active disease and Latent TB infection and that the most common form of active TB is a lung disease that may spread to other organs?
Active TB is an illness in which the TB bacteria are rapidly multiplying and invading different organs of the body.
Latent TB occurs when a person has the TB bacteria within their body (commonly at the apices of the lungs), but the bacteria are present in very small numbers and are not actively multiplying. They are kept under control by the body’s immune system and may not cause any symptoms.
Miliary TB, also known as disseminated TB, is a form of TB that occurs when the bacteria has multiplied and travelled through the bloodstream to infect different organs. There are different types of Miliary TB namely which are named according to the organs affected, such as these commonly affected organs;
- Skeletal (bone and joint TB)
- Liver (Hepatic TB)
- Spleen (Splenic TB)
- TB meningitis
- Gastrointestinal TB
- Abdominal TB
- Kidneys (Renal TB/ Kidney TB)
Did you also know that the TB bacteria can be resistant to drugs (prescribed TB treatment)? When you are infected with TB and the TB bacteria is not responding to the prescribed treatment this qualifies a healthcare worker to diagnose you with Drug-Resistant TB (DR TB). Drug-resistant TB (DR TB) spreads the same way that TB is spread. TB is spread through the air from one person to another.