Vulnerable groups advised to seek testing for tuberculosis

In Yucatan, tuberculosis has not yet been eradicated and is catastrophic…//

Surely you have heard someone cough by your side, a relative, neighbor or co-worker. This cough may be the sign of a lung disease called tuberculosis, which is contagious and fatal if not treated in time, but which is curable, following the appropriate treatment.

The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) proclaimed March 24 as World TB Day. On that date, in 1882, Dr. Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacteria responsible for tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Although at one time it was thought that tuberculosis had been eradicated from Mexico and Yucatan, that did not happen, and there are more and more cases reported by the authorities.

In Yucatan, last year there were 250 diagnosed cases, according to the records of the deputy, Dr. Manuel Diaz Suarez, president of the Health and Social Security Commission of the State Congress. At this point, in 2018 there were already about 30 confirmed cases.

But what causes tuberculosis and what is its treatment?

Mainly, tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by mycobacteria (known as Koch’s Mycobacterium tuberculosis), which spreads like a fungus in infected tissues, mainly the lung.

The bacillus is transmitted through the air, when coughing, sneezing or speaking, and is characterized by the formation of tubers or nodules in infected tissues.

“It can affect different organs of the body, especially the lungs, producing dry cough, fever, bloody sputum and weight loss. On the radiographs it looks like caverns in the lung,” he said.

One of the agents that produces the disease in Yucatan, health authorities say, is the smoke from kitchens and the burning of garbage.

“In the towns and municipalities, as well as in the peripheries of Mérida, people, especially housewives, continue to cook in a wood stove,” said the doctor and legislator.

Since the combustion of wood in kitchens produce smoke, women and those living in the house breathe it all the time, which generates respiratory and pulmonary diseases, in addition to coexistence with people who smoke.

TREATMENT IS FREE

Because tuberculosis is considered a catastrophic illness, treatment is free, including tests to verify or rule it out and all health centers are obliged to treat the sick. It is a fact that can be confused with other diseases, but the key is coughing and phlegm for more than 15 days, in addition to phlegm with blood.

Time to make history, let’s move towards the elimination of tuberculosis: SSY

The health authorities of Yucatan constantly carry out the intentional search for tuberculosis in vulnerable groups — shelters, Social Readaptation Centers (Cereso), diabetics and people with HIV-AIDS, said Dr. René Armando Rodríguez Suárez, state manager of the mico program Bacteriosis of the Health Services of Yucatán.

In an interview, about the World Day of this disease, Rodríguez Suárez said that they pay more attention, within the vulnerable groups, to people suffering from diabetes and HIV-AIDS, since the time of life is reduced between four and six months after contracting the disease.

He confirmed that last year there were 250 new cases of pulmonary tuberculosis, which is the most common, and 55 cases of other tissues.

In that sense, he invited the Yucatecans to stay alert to any indication of tuberculosis, apply the respective vaccines and not self-medicate.

“The main symptom is cough with phlegm for more than 15 days, when it happens we must go to any health center where the staff is ready to start the studies and apply the appropriate treatment. It is important not to self-medicate,” said the doctor.

The tendency in the last 15 years, said the interviewee, is to decrease the prevalence, which ranges from a rate of 13.3 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants to 11.3 cases. The cure rate has also risen from 33% in 1997 to 91% in 2017.

“The mortality from pulmonary tuberculosis in the last 14 years has been reduced from three deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants in 1997 to 1.1 in 2018,” the official explained.

In this regard, he said, the challenge is the growing association of tuberculosis cases with other diseases that aggravate it, such as diabetes (25%), HIV-AIDS (10%), alcoholism and malnutrition ( 7%), and drug resistance.

Today, tuberculosis remains a public health problem and affects the well-being of people around the world, but it does not figure among the top 20 causes of death in Mexico. However, efforts remain to reach the goal of Healthy Lungs.

Text: Esteban Cruz Obando

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