Celebrating World Tuberculosis Day 2017: It’s Not Just About Remembering The ‘Bad’ Old Days

First Posted: Mar 25, 2017 05:37 AM EDT

Yesterday, March 24, was celebrated as the World Tuberculosis Day 2017. Many may assume that it is celebrated as a reminder of how mankind led and won the fight against tuberculosis through the innovation of highly effective antibiotics. However, that is not the case. Although tuberculosis is now curable, the number of people contracting the diseases and losing their lives to it is still pretty high.

Earlier research conducted in the 20th century had identified Mycobacterium tuberculosis as the causative agent of the disease. Though it still stands true, over time it has been observed that people started contracting new strains of pathogenic Mycobacterium species that needs differential diagnosis. Most of these new strains viz. M. bovis are zoonotic in nature. For instance, they get transferred in to the human body from animals and livestock.

When the pathogen manifests itself as clinical tuberculosis, physicians most likely prescribe the same medications as they do for M. tuberculosis. The misdiagnosis of the disease is one of the chief constraints that hamper the timely treatment of tuberculosis caused by zoonotic Mycobacterium species, Scientific American reported.

In order make the correct diagnosis, it is imperative that molecular typing of the pathogen is performed. In real time cases, by the time it comes to that, the bacteria had already made its way to other parts of the body as well as to other hosts.

The condition is even worse for HIV/AIDS patients, who have a compromised immune system. Latest data reveal that HIV-associated tuberculosis is one of the chief factors that lead to death of HIV-positive patients. Therefore, tuberculosis is no way a "thing of the past."

It has been observed that mass administration of the "bacille Calmette-Guérin" (BCG) vaccine still remains the most common and effective method of preventing tuberculosis. However, according to leading scientists, it is high time the fight against tuberculosis is expanded to animals. The complete eradication of the disease depends on eradicating the strains of tuberculosis-causing bacteria prevalent in animals, The News Minute reported.

Modern medicine may claim to have conquered tuberculosis in principle. However, it seems the ultimate goal of its eradication is still far away.

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