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According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) anyone can be infected with TB. However, some people are at a higher risk such as:

  • People who have been in contact with someone with infectious TB.
  • People who were born in or travel to countries with high infection rates such as the Philippines, Vietnam, India, China, Haiti, and Guatemala among others. South Africa also has a high incidence of tuberculosis.
  • Health care workers and others who work in places such as shelters, prisons, and nursing homes.
  • People who work in or attend densely populated places such as factories, offices and events.

TB most frequently attacks the lungs and presents the following symptoms:

  • A cough lasting longer than 3 weeks
  • Coughing up phlegm or sputum
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Night sweats
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness or fatigue

Where TB occurs in other parts of the body, symptoms can include:

  • Blood in the urine (TB of the kidneys)
  • Headaches or confusion (TB meningitis)
  • Back pain (TB of the spine)
  • Hoarseness (TB of the larynx)

How is TB spread?
TB is spread through the air from one person to another. This transmission occurs when a person with infectious disease of the lung or throat coughs, speaks, spits or sings. People who breathe in these germs may become infected. When breathed in, the TB germs settle in the lungs and can then move through the blood to other parts of the body such as the kidney, spine, or brain.

TB can and must be cured
The WHO (World Health Organisation) reports that since the year 2000, 53 million lives have been saved thanks to the effective diagnosis and treatment of TB. Treatment takes about 6 months. Diagnosis and treatment are vital as, apart from the infected person’s own well-being, the WHO estimates that left untreated, a further 10-15 people can be infected in a year by the infected TB carrier. Without proper treatment up to two thirds of people with infectious TB will die.

As reported by the NICD (National Institute For Communicable Diseases) in 2021, more than 304,000 people in South Africa contracted TB and 56,000 died as a result of this preventable and treatable disease. Despite these alarming figures, South Africa has recorded a drop of about 50% in new infections and a nearly two-thirds drop in associated deaths since 2009.

Early detection and treatment CAN make a difference. Spread the word!


While all reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this article, information may change or become dated, as new developments occur. The Link group shall not be held liable or accountable for the accuracy, completeness or correctness of any information for any purpose. No content in this article, irrespective of the date or reference source, should be viewed as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor, pharmacist or any other suitably qualified clinician.