Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease which is transmitted via drops in the air. The disease primarily affects the lungs; however, it can also affect other organs. In earlier times, tuberculosis was known worldwide under the name of consumption. With the development of antibiotics and a vaccine, tuberculosis has declined significantly in the Western world. Nowadays, the disease is gaining ground again. The reasons for this are global migration and the development of antibiotic resistance.
The pathogen of tuberculosis is mycobacterium tuberculosis, a type of bacteria which has spread worldwide. After tuberculosis declined significantly in the western world thanks to antibiotics, thee has been an increase in the number of tuberculosis cases in the last few years. Around 550 people fall ill with the disease in Switzerland per year, the majority of whom are migrants. Small children and people with a weakened immune system are at particular risk of falling ill with tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis mostly affects the lungs; however, it can also impact other organs. Tuberculosis causes very few symptoms in its early states. As the disease progresses, the typical symptoms occur. They include a cough, sometimes with bloody sputum, fever, night sweats, loss of weight and loss of energy. Every cough which lasts longer than three weeks should be checked by a doctor. If the tuberculosis nodes are directly connected to the bronchial tubes, this is called “open tuberculosis” and the disease can be transmitted to other people upon detection of tuberculosis bacteria in the sputum of infected persons, there is a danger of infection.
Different clarifications and examinations are carried out to diagnose tuberculosis. They include x-ray imaging and blood tests. In the event of unclear cases, a bronchoscopy with a tissue sample may be required in certain cases.
Tuberculosis is treated with antibiotics. The disease must be reported and those affected are isolated at the beginning of treatment until they are no longer infectious. If there is no treatment, the disease can be fatal. Antibiotic treatment usually lasts six months and the success of the treatment is regularly checked.
Vaccination against tuberculosis in Switzerland is only recommended in exceptional cases. For example, if you are moving to a country with high rates of tuberculosis.