As per Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP) statistics, every year 12 lakh Indians are diagnosed with tuberculosis (better known as TB).
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that 40 percent of the Indian population carries TB bacteria; the number so high that out of the 9 million people living with tuberculosis across the globe, 2 million cases are reported from our country itself.
Sadly, lack of awareness about this disease has shown the path for superstitions and myths. Whenever a TB patient is identified, he/she is immediately treated as an outcast in the name of contagiousness.
As we are set to observe World Tuberculosis Day on March 24, let us check out 10 unknown facts about the disease:
1. TB is curable. However, WHO says, due to lack of awareness over 5000 people die every day of this disease.
2. Mostly youths, especially those malnourished, succumb to this disease.
3. TB acts as the last nail in the coffin for people with HIV/AIDS/weak immune system.
4. TB cases are growing at the rate of 1 percent every year; the primary contributor being Africa.
5. One-third of world’s population carries the microbes of TB. But only 1 out of 10 will fall sick due to TB in his/her lifetime.
6. TB is contagious. Period. But only when not treated will it kill 10-15 individuals on an average every year.
7. After Africa, high incidences of TB are reported in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines.
8. TB is not a heredity disease and need not run in the family. Rather it spreads via the air and the bacteria enters the lungs of any person who inhales this infected air.
9. TB does not always affect the poor. Even Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan contracted tuberculosis in 2000.
10. It is a myth that anyone who comes in contact with a TB patient becomes one soon. Only pulmonary or lung tuberculosis is infectious.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.