13.1  What is TB?

‘Pulmonary’ is the term given to anything affecting the lungs. ‘Extra-pulmonary’ means outside the lungs.

Tuberculosis is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis; another name for these bacteria is TB bacteria or tubercle bacilli. TB usually affects the lungs (80% of TB cases are of this type), hence the name pulmonary TB (PTB). When other organs of the body are affected, such as the bones, joints, lymph-nodes, gastro-intestinal tract, meninges (coverings of the brain), or the reproductive system, kidneys and bladder (also known as the genito-urinary tract), the disease is called extra-pulmonary TB (or EPTB).

  • You have probably come across people who suffer from TB. Do you know what the most common symptoms are?

  • If you have direct experience of TB patients, you will probably know the symptoms are: persistent cough, weight loss, chest pain, tiredness, difficulty in breathing, sometimes spitting up blood, and general symptoms like sweating and fever.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 13

13.2  Global and regional burden of TB disease