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OP/ED: Tuberculosis Sweep Asia Pacific

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posted on Mar, 27 2005 @ 06:55 PM
The World Health organisation has released a report by Dr Christopher Dye finding that tuberculosis is on the rise worldwide. Figures show that almost 9 million people contract the disease yearly and 2 million people, of which more than half are from the Asia Pacific region will die of the disease. Tuberculosis is a transmissable disease contracted through contact with airborne bacteria expelled when a person with active pulmonary disease coughs. The symptoms of active pulmonary Tuberculosis is a persistent cough, loss of appetite, weight loss, night fevers and profuse sweating. Patients who are HIV positive, the elderly and young children are particulary suseptible to the disease due to a lowered immune system.

There are major problems at this time worldwide in the diagnosis and testing for the disease. The current testing proceedures are outdated and do not always show accurate results.

Two types of testing is currently standard worldwide, Sputum testing, which fails on young children who cannot cough up enough sputum for accurate sample testing and Mantoux testing, which does not show if a patient is active with the disease as it only shows whether a person has been exposed to a person with active disease.

Sputum testing returns false negatives by using the current standard of acid fast staining, in which the tuberculosis bacteria reacts to the acid stain. Newer PCR which is dna testing has returned up to 80 percent positives on samples already tested by staining techniques and returned negative. Unfortunately PCR testing is expensive and many doctors worldwide are not submitting patients samples for this type of testing, instead relying on the older less accurate tests before beginning treatment.

Culture testing has also returned false negatives due to the actual bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis, being sparse on samples submitted for testing. The bacteria is slow growing and cultures take up to six weeks to return results, during which time many patients go about their day to day life without being isolated, therefore multiplying the risk of the spread of the disease.

Problems also exist in countries including England and the rest of the UK where premature announcements by government officials saying that tuberculosis has been eradicated in that country have caused up to five index cases to be left undiagnosed.

Tuberculosis is often found in AIDS patients who are at an increased risk of contracting the disease due to an almost non existent immune system. Exposure to the bacteria in these patients yields more positive results than in people with steady immune systems due to the sparsity of bacteria. Repeated exposure is usually needed before a healthy person tests positive and it is not usually spread by use of shared utensils for eating or by touch.

The thought of marijuana smoking is bought into question. Up unto the 1930's before the banning of marijuana, it was used as a common cure for the disease. Nowadays marijuana smokers who share smoking utensils like 'bongs' are more likely to spread the disease alot more easily than health officials are admitting. Many marijuana smokers tested for tuerculosis through sputum testing and chest xrays show negative results, due to the marijuana keeping the pulmonary disease in check, but not removing it from the bloodstream, therfore once again making testing for the disease much more difficult with the antiquated testing proceedures used. Figures are not readily available on the marijuna tuberculosis relationship as testing with marijuana is under a worldwide ban at this present point in time and officials will not publicly speak out on the relationship of the two.

There are two types of Tuberculosis plus a number of similiar bacterias of the same family, including mycobacterium marinarum, often found in fisherman, contracted through cuts on the hands from fish infected with the bacteria. The two types pulmonary and extra pulmonary tuberculosis can be fatal if left untreated. Pulmonary tuberculosis is the more common of the two but recent studies have found that five percent of patients with tuberculosis do not have pulmonary activity which can leave the disease undiagnosed. Extra pulmonary tuberculosis can be found in almost any organ of the body including liver, skin, lymph nodes and brain. Common sysmptoms of extra pulmonary are similar to pulmonary tuberculosis without the persistent cough and often patients are found to have casseating necrotizing granulatomous growths in lymph nodes and organs.

Case Studies
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Marijuana and Tuberculosis
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[edit on 27-3-2005 by Mayet]


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