Tuberculosis: the causes

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. The bacterium in question is Koch's bacillus.

Only the respiratory forms (pulmonary, bronchial, laryngeal) are contagious. Koch's bacillus is transmitted by air through respiratory secretions and saliva droplets from a person with contagious TB. Tuberculosis can be transmitted by coughing, spitting or sneezing.

If tuberculosis is contagious, it is less infectious than influenza. Indeed, the transmission implies a prolonged proximity with the contaminated person, for example by living in the same dwelling as the contagious person.

As a result, not all people in contact with a TB patient are systematically infected: about 30% of highly exposed people are infected. In addition, not all will develop TB disease.

When tuberculosis first contaminates a person, it is called primary infection. This phase is not always associated with the emergence of TB disease (with damage to the lungs or other organs). In this case, this person is not contagious. However, there is a risk of progression to TB disease. To avoid this development, it is necessary to diagnose and treat this primary infection.

In case of primary infection, anti-tuberculosis treatment is prescribed for several months. It is essential to scrupulously follow the treatment to avoid the risk of developing TB disease.

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