DHAKA, March 31, 2017 (BSS) - Over 80 percent people in Bangladesh are carrying Tuberculosis (TB) germs, a lead chest disease expert told BSS.
"Yet, it is not a matter of concern as the TB germs are not always harmful for the human body," said Dr Shamim Ahmed, an associate professor of Pulmonology Department, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
"One of the main reasons of becoming a TB patient is immunity of an individual. In many cases, the germs are likely to be harmless and these types of germs are called latent," he explained.
Despite having TB germs in the body, he said, a person can lead a normal life and doctors do not prescribe any treatment until the person gets infected.
Mentioning the disease as a contagious one, Dr Shamim said the common signs and symptoms of TB include fever, chills, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fatigue.
He also said it may infect any part of the body, but most commonly occurs in the lungs (known as pulmonary tuberculosis).
TB, he said, is caused by an infectious agent called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which generally responds well to anti-TB drugs.
A general TB patient gets cured completely if he or she takes drugs for six months regularly, he said, adding that if a patient does not take drugs regularly, or does not complete a full course or if the drugs are of low quality, then TB germs become drug-resistant.
"This is called MDR-TB and it is not generally cured with existing drugs. The patients have to take new drugs for about 24 months," Dr Shamim said.
Despite achieving a remarkable success in detection and treatment of TB, it is still a major public health problem in Bangladesh as nearly 5,000 patients are diagnosed with MDR-TB every year, he added.
In Bangladesh, Shamim said, the estimated incidence rate for all forms of Tuberculosis in 2015 was 225 per 100,000 population while MDR-TB was 6 per 100,000 population.
He, however, said the government, together with its many partners from the public and private sectors, is committed to further intensify the TB control activities in order to sustain the achieved success and to reach the TB control targets.
Community-based treatment programs such as DOTS-Plus, a MDR-TB-specialized treatment using the popular Directly Observed Therapy -Short Course (DOTS) initiative, have shown considerable success in the treatment of MDR-TB in some parts of the world, including Bangladesh, he added.
The TB expert said these programs are proven to be a good option for proper treatment of MDR-TB in the poor and in rural areas.
Bangladesh government has introduced DOTS in 1993 and the programme has achieved remarkable progress in TB control, Dr Shamim said.
He also informed that the program has successfully treated 94 percent of bacteriologically confirmed new pulmonary TB cases registered in 2014.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)