13.4.1 Who is at risk from tuberculosis?
In a country like Ethiopia, with a very high number of TB cases, certain factors increase a person’s risk of developing active TB, either on first exposure or when a latent TB infection overcomes the body’s immunity to become active. These risk factors include:
- Poverty, causing poor living conditions and diet
- Prolonged close contact with someone with active TB
- Extreme age (the very young or old age groups), when the effectiveness of the immunity is lowered
- Malnutrition, which prevents the immune system from working properly
- Inaccessible health care, making it harder to diagnose and treat TB
- Living or working in a place or facilities such as a prison or a refugee camp, where there is overcrowding, poor ventilation, or unsanitary conditions
- Healthcare workers such as yourself, with increased chances of exposure to TB
- Lowered immunity factors, like HIV/AIDS or diabetes, drug treatments for cancer, and certain arthritis medications, will decrease the ability of the body’s defence mechanisms to keep the TB in check; this increases the chances of active TB developing.