Tuberculosis: the most dangerous infectious disease



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World Tuberculosis Day: Experts warn of the deadly infectious disease

On the occasion of yesterday's World Tuberculosis Day, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) drew attention to the fact that tuberculosis remains a serious illness in Germany. Although the number of diseases in Germany has been declining for years, the trend has slowed down significantly and there is a risk of a renewed increase in tuberculosis cases, warned the RKI.

World Tuberculosis Day takes place every year on March 24 to inform the public about the world's most dangerous infectious disease. The date is no coincidence, because on March 24, 1882 Robert Koch discovered the tuberculosis bacterium and thus laid the foundation for medical treatment. At that time, tuberculosis was even more widespread in Europe and America, and around one in seven deaths was caused by tuberculosis. Today the situation in Germany is much more harmless, but more than a hundred people die here in Germany every year from tuberculosis, thousands fall ill, warned the RKI on World Tuberculosis Day yesterday.

Tuberculosis is the deadliest infectious disease worldwide. To date, tuberculosis is relatively widespread, especially in Asia, Africa and the Eastern European countries. Every year around nine million people contract tuberculosis and 1.7 million people die each year as a result of the infection. In Germany, however, the number of illnesses has been declining for years. However, according to the RKI, the declining trend has slowed significantly in Germany. While the number of tuberculosis cases originally fell by almost ten percent annually, only two percent fewer cases of tuberculosis were recorded in Germany last year than in the previous year, explained the RKI. With around 4,500 illnesses and around 150 deaths every year, tuberculosis remains a serious illness in Germany, too, warned RKI President Reinhard Burger.

Symptoms of Tuberculosis Disease The experts also used World Tuberculosis Day to raise public awareness of the symptoms of tuberculosis. Most often, the disease, also known as consumption or “the moths”, occurs as an infection of the lungs, with persistent coughing, chronic fatigue, weight loss, fever with night sweats and a stinging in the chest can be signs of tuberculosis. The RKI warned that anyone who diagnoses such symptoms should urgently see a doctor, since untreated tuberculosis results in the death of those affected in around 50 percent of cases. Tuberculosis is usually transmitted through the droplet infection, in which infected people cough to expel tiny droplets containing pathogens that infect their fellow human beings. According to the RKI, the risk of infection is particularly high in poor hygiene and in a confined space.

Is there a risk of tuberculosis rising again? Although tuberculosis usually occurs as a bacterial infection of the lungs, the pathogens can also affect other organs such as the urinary tract, meninges, bones, genital organs or the digestive tract. According to the RKI President in Germany, the lack of experience of doctors in dealing with tuberculosis is particularly critical. Due to the significantly reduced number of tuberculosis diseases, many doctors lack the routine in dealing with the infectious disease, which can lead to problems in diagnosis and treatment. According to the RKI, it is also problematic that the pathogens have now developed resistance to some antibiotics, which makes therapy considerably more difficult. In addition, the diseases continue to decline, but around 30 percent of pulmonary tuberculosis today is a particularly contagious type. Overall, there are some indications that tuberculosis diseases are also threatening to rise again here, warned the RKI President. On the occasion of yesterday's World Tuberculosis Day, Burger called for further training for doctors to ensure improved diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis. (fp)

Read on this topic:
RKI warns of tuberculosis in Germany
Study: Tuberculosis increases the risk of lung cancer

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