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Public health approaches to infectious disease
Public health approaches to infectious disease

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1.3 Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) has overtaken HIV/AIDS globally as the largest infectious cause of death by a single pathogen. Kaufmann reports that in 2011:

  • Every minute of every day, nearly 20 people were infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and four people died from TB.
  • One-third of the global population (well over 2 billion people) were carriers of TB bacteria.
  • There were over 9 million new or relapsed active cases.
  • Over 2 million people with chronic TB died.

Although the prevalence of TB is highest in the poorer countries of South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (Figure 3), it is resurging in Eastern Europe and increasing in the richest parts of the world. For example, there were over 9000 new cases of TB in England and Wales in 2011, most of them in London (HPA, 2012).

Described image
© WHO/P.Virot
Figure 3 A woman with tuberculosis receiving her DOTS medication (directly observed treatment, short course) from a healthworker in Alem Kitmama, Ethiopia