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What is TB, and how can it be prevented?

TB (or tuberculosis, or consumption as it used to be known) is a serious infection, that used to be very prevalent throughout the world, and killed many people in across Europe in its day.

The disease, which is caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is much less common in developed countries these days, but it’s still a risk factor, particularly for people with HIV, and those who come into close contact with infected people.

Tuberculosis is characterised by a persistent cough that won’t go away, phlegm, that often contains blood as the disease progresses, loss of appetite and weight loss, fatigue and night sweats accompanied by fever. TB is also the number one cause of death in HIV positive people around the world.

It’s spread by contact with infected saliva and mucus, including microscopic droplets that are airborne.  A special test, known as a Mantoux test, is needed to confirm that you have TB, since it appears similar to many other respiratory diseases.

Treatment for tuberculosis includes antibiotic treatment for six months, however, TB is becoming more and more drug resistant, and it’s much harder to treat these days.
Your child will be given a BCG vaccination soon after birth, and that’s one of the very best ways that you can protect your child from infection.

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