Tuberculosis or TB, as it’s commonly called, is a contagious infection that usually attacks the lungs. TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, small drops contain the germs are released. You get infected by breathing in these germs. However, like most infections, TB can be treated successfully with medication.

 

Who is at risk

Anyone can get TB but people at high risk are those with medical conditions that weaken the immune system like HIV/AIDS and Cancer. While there has been strides in fighting TB, miners are still at the greatest risk of contracting TB.

The symptoms and signs of TB may include the following:

  • A bad cough with blood in the saliva that lasts up to 3 weeks or longer
  • Pain in the chest when coughing
  • Feeling pain while breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sweating excessively at night
  • Loss of appetite which leads to weight loss
  • Unexplained fever for more than 1 week
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Swollen glands on either side of the neck

Treatment:

TB can be cured with the right medication. The type and length of treatment depends on a person’s age, overall health, potential resistance to drugs. People with active TB will require a prescription of Isoniazid (INH), Rifampin (RIF) and Ethambutol (EMB) taken for a period of 6-9 months.

 

Prevention:

If you do not have TB but exposed to it, this what you can do to reduce the risk of transmission:

  • Wearing a mask to protect yourself from the germs in the air when in the same space with someone who is infected
  • Rooms must be ventilated for fresh air to circulate, minimising the bacteria in the air.
  • Wash your hands before handling food

If you are infected, this is what you can do:

  • Spend time outdoors and always be in ventilated spaces
  • Covering your mouth every time you cough or sneeze
  • Throw away used toilet paper
  • Avoid close contact with others

Lastly, remember that TB can be cured if detected early. Visit the clinics in the mines if you suspect that you may have TB, and remember that when it comes to successful treatment, only the medicine the doctor prescribes will lead to being cured.