Tuberculosis, often shortened as TB, is an infectious disease caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. It attacks the lungs primarily, but can be spread to other body parts such as the brain. There are two types of TB: latent tuberculosis, which means you have the bacteria in your body but there are no symptoms and it can’t be spread to other; then there is active tuberculosis, which shows symptoms and can be spread as an airborne disease.
1. Symptoms of tuberculosis include weight loss, coughing, coughing up blood, fever, night sweats, and loss of appetite. The weight loss is the reason why it used to be called "consumption".
2. TB can be spread through the air by coughing, spitting, and sneezing.
3. TB has been around for so long it has even been discovered in the remains of mummies! In Hong Kong, it has been around since 1939.
4. The disease can be prevented by wearing masks - either by those without TB to avoid catching it, or by those affected so they don't spread it. There is also a vaccine called Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) to help prevent catching TB.
5. In most cases, tuberculosis can be cured with a long course of antibiotics. The most common antibiotics prescribed for tuberculosis include isoniazid, and rifampin.