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Tuberculosis (abbreviated as TB for tubercle bacillus or Tuberculosis) is a common and deadly infectious disease caused by mycobacteria mainly Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis most commonly attacks the lungs (as pulmonary TB) but can also affect the central nervous system, the lymphatic system, the circulatory system, the genitourinary system, bones, joints and even the . Other mycobacteria such as Mycobacterium bovis, Mycobacterium africanum, Mycobacterium canetti, and Mycobacterium microti can also cause tuberculosis, but these species do not usually infect healthy adults.

Over one-third of the world's population has been infected by the TB bacterium, and new infections occur at a rate of one per second. Not everyone infected develops the full-blown disease; asymptomatic, latent TB infection is most common. However, one in ten latent infections will progress to active TB disease, which, if left untreated, kills more than half of its victims.

In 2004, mortality and morbidity statistics included 14.6 million chronic active TB cases, 8.9 million new cases, and 1.6 million deaths, mostly in developing countries.


When the disease becomes active, 75% of the cases are pulmonary TB. Symptoms include chest pain, coughing up blood, and a productive, prolonged cough for more than three weeks. Systemic symptoms include fever, chills, night sweats, appetite loss, weight loss, pallor, and often a tendency to fatigue very easily.

In the other 25% of active cases, the infection moves from the lungs, causing other kinds of TB more common in immunosuppressed persons and young children. Extrapulmonary infection sites include the pleura, the central nervous system in meningitis, the lymphatic system in scrofula of the neck, the genitourinary system in urogenital tuberculosis, and bones and joints in Pott's disease of the spine. An especially serious form is disseminated TB, more commonly known as miliary tuberculosis. Although extrapulmonary TB is not contagious, it may co-exist with pulmonary TB, which is contagious


When people suffering from active pulmonary TB cough, sneeze, speak, kiss, or spit, they expel infectious aerosol< droplets 0.5 to 5 µm in diameter. A single sneeze, for instance, can release up to 40,000 droplets. Each one of these droplets may transmit the disease, since the infectious dose of tuberculosis is very low and the inhalation of just a single bacterium can cause a new infection.

People with prolonged, frequent, or intense contact are at particularly high risk of becoming infected, with an estimated 22% infection rate. A person with active but untreated tuberculosis can infect 10–15 other people per year.Others at risk include people in areas where TB is common, people who inject drugs using unsanitary needles, residents and employees of high-risk congregate settings, medically under-served and low-income populations, high-risk racial or ethnic minority populations, children exposed to adults in high-risk categories, patients immunocompromised by conditions such as HIV AIDS, people who take immunosuppressant drugs, and health care workers serving these high-risk clients.

World TB incidence. Cases per 100,000; Red = >300, orange = 200–300; yellow = 100–200; green 50–100; blue = <50 and grey = n/a. Data from WHO, 2006.

Transmission can only occur from people with active—not latent—TB. The probability of transmission from one person to another depends upon the number of infectious droplets expelled by a carrier, the effectiveness of ventilation, the duration of exposure, and the virulence of the M. tuberculosisstrain. The chain of transmission can therefore be broken by isolating patients with active disease and starting effective anti-tuberculous therapy. After two weeks of such treatment, people with non-resistant active TB generally cease to be contagious.




About 90% of those infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis have asymptomatic, latent TB infection (sometimes called LTBI), with only a 10% lifetime chance that a latent infection will progress to TB disease. However, if untreated, the death rate for these active TB cases is more than 50%.

TB infection begins when the mycobacteria reach the pulmonary alveoli, where they invade and replicate within alveolar macrophages.The primary site of infection in the lungs is called the Ghon focus. Bacteria are picked up by dendritic cells, which do not allow replication, although these cells can transport the bacilli to local (mediastinal)lymph nodes. Further spread is through the bloodstream to the more distant tissues and organs where secondary TB lesions can develop in lung apices, peripheral lymph nodes, kidneys, brain, and bone. All parts of the body can be affected by the disease, though it rarely affects the heart, skeletal muscles, pancreas and thyroid.

Tuberculosis is classified as one of the granulomatous inflammatory conditions. Macrophages, T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes and fibroblasts are among the cells that aggregate to form a granuloma, with lymphocytes surrounding the infected macrophages. The granuloma functions not only to prevent dissemination of the mycobacteria, but also provides a local environment for communication of cells of the immune system. Within the granuloma, T lymphocytes (CD4+) secrete cytokines such as interferon gamma, which activates macrophages to destroy the bacteria with which they are infected.T lymphocytes (CD8+) can also directly kill infected cells.

Importantly, bacteria are not always eliminated within the granuloma, but can become dormant, resulting in a latent infection. Another feature of the granulomas of human tuberculosis is the development of cell death, also called necrosis, in the center of tubercles. To the naked eye this has the texture of soft white cheese and was termed caseous necrosis.

If TB bacteria gain entry to the bloodstream from an area of damaged tissue they spread through the body and set up many foci of infection, all appearing as tiny white tubercles in the tissues. This severe form of TB disease is most common in infants and the elderly and is called miliary tuberculosis. Patients with this disseminated TB have a fatality rate of approximately 20%, even with intensive treatment.

In many patients the infection waxes and wanes. Tissue destruction and necrosis are balanced by healing and fibrosis. Affected tissue is replaced by scarring and cavities filled with cheese-like white necrotic material. During active disease, some of these cavities are joined to the air passages bronchi and this material can be coughed up. It contains living bacteria and can therefore pass on infection. Treatment with appropriate antibiotics kills bacteria and allows healing to take place. Upon cure, affected areas are eventually replaced by scar tissue... http://www.wikipedia.org