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163. Tuberculosis Still Kills
There are some “good” things about the disease
tuberculosis (TB). One is that it can be
. Another is that TB is not spread by
hands, sharing dishes, or sharing clothing. Another is
people usually catch it only from others that
are with constantly—such as family, friends, or coworkers.
occasional cough or sneeze from a nearby stranger
't transmit TB.
Many people think TB is rare,
bubonic plague or smallpox. Yet TB still occurs
, killing almost 2 million people a year! Most
are young or elderly, and live in developing
. Yet even in developed countries, TB is a
. In the US, TB killed 650 people in
Caused by bacteria, most forms of TB can
treated with antibiotics. The antibiotics must be taken
weeks, however, before the victim completely recovers. Ignoring
's orders, some victims stop taking their antibiotics as
as they start feeling better; they risk catching
stronger version of TB in the future.
attacks the lungs. Symptoms vary. But common symptoms
fatigue, lots of coughing, loss of appetite, chest
, and spitting up blood. A simple skin test,
if necessary by a chest x-ray, will determine
active TB exists. If so, a doctor will
More than a billion people have inactive
. It becomes active and life-threatening only when a
's immune system weakens because of aging or a