Tests for Tuberculosis Resurgence: Unmasking the Silent Threat
TB, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, primarily affects the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body. The resurgence of tuberculosis (TB) is a pressing global concern, demanding immediate attention. As TB makes a comeback, it poses a significant threat to public health and requires increasing awareness of tests for Tuberculosis. Without treatment, 1 in 10 people with inactive TB will get sick with active TB disease, which can spread to others and be deadly1. In this blog, we delve into the alarming rise of TB cases, and the potential consequences, and explore effective tests for Tuberculosis and strategies to confront this resurging menace head-on.
Unmasking the Silent Threat: TB's Comeback
Prepare to be alarmed: TB, a disease once thought to be under control, has made an unwelcome return. Tests for Tuberculosis could be the answer but lack of awareness caused TB spread. In recent years, the global health community has faced an alarming challenge: the resurgence of tuberculosis (TB). Despite significant progress in combating this infectious disease and the availability of tests for Tuberculosis, TB has made a comeback, raising concerns worldwide The resurgence of TB can be attributed to several factors, including drug resistance, the co-existence of TB and HIV, and the vulnerability of healthcare systems. Let's uncover the reasons behind this concerning comeback and understand its implications, what are the blood tests for TB, and where to get test for TB.
- Drug Resistance: The rise of drug-resistant strains, such as multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), poses significant challenges to effective treatment and control efforts.
- HIV Co-infection: TB and HIV have a deadly synergy, with each disease exacerbating the other's impact. The HIV epidemic has contributed to the resurgence of TB, particularly in regions with high HIV prevalence.
- Weak Healthcare Systems: Insufficient resources, inadequate access to quality healthcare, and limited diagnostic capacities in some areas have hindered TB control efforts and contributed to the disease's resurgence.
Understanding Recurrent TB:
Additionally, TB can lie dormant in the body, with the bacteria surviving but remaining inactive for extended periods. Factors such as weakened immune function, inadequate treatment, or incomplete medication courses can contribute to the reactivation of TB bacteria, leading to recurrent TB. It's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of recurrent TB, which can include persistent cough, chest pain, weight loss, fatigue, and fever. If you have a history of TB or suspect a recurrence, seeking prompt medical attention is crucial.
Tests for Tuberculosis and where to get test for TB?
Early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for effectively managing TB and curbing its spread. Diagnostic tests play a vital role in identifying active cases, assessing drug resistance, and guiding appropriate treatment strategies. Let's explore some key tests of Tuberculosis and where to get tested for TB.
Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) or Mantoux Test:
The TB skin test is also called the Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST). A TB skin test requires two visits with a healthcare provider. On the first visit the test is placed; on the second visit, the healthcare provider reads the test. The TB skin test is performed by injecting a small amount of fluid (called tuberculin) into the skin on the lower part of the arm. A person given the tuberculin skin test must return within 48 to 72 hours to have a trained healthcare worker look for a reaction on the arm. The result depends on the size of the raised, hard area, or swelling2.
Blood tests for TB:
- Interferon-Gamma Release Assays (IGRAs): IGRAs, such as the QuantiFERON-TB Gold measure the release of interferon-gamma by immune cells in response to TB antigens. These tests help differentiate between latent TB infection and active TB disease, providing more specific information for accurate diagnosis. Other Pros for the QuantiFERON-TB Gold on TST are its objectivity, requires a single blood draw in 1 visit and the results are reported directly online, and it is more accurate and not affected by the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine.
- Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs): NAATs, such as the GeneXpert MTB/RIF test, detect the presence of TB DNA or RNA in biological samples with high accuracy. These tests provide rapid results and can simultaneously identify drug-resistant strains, enabling prompt treatment initiation.
- Molecular Line Probe Assays: These assays, such as the GenoType MTBDRplus3, detect specific genetic mutations associated with drug resistance in TB bacteria. They aid in identifying drug-resistant strains and guiding appropriate treatment options.
Other tests for Tuberculosis:
Chest X-ray and Imaging:
Chest X-rays are a widely used diagnostic tool for TB. They can reveal abnormalities in the lungs, such as nodules or cavities, suggestive of active TB infection. Advanced imaging techniques like computed tomography (CT) scans can provide more detailed information for accurate diagnosis.
The resurgence of tuberculosis demands a comprehensive response from the global health community. Timely and accurate diagnosis is essential for controlling the spread of TB and improving patient outcomes. By utilizing diagnostic tests for Tuberculosis like TST, IGRAs, NAATs, imaging techniques, sputum microscopy and culture, and molecular line probe assays, healthcare professionals can unmask TB's presence earlier, initiate timely treatment, and mitigate the impact of this resurging infectious disease. Together, let us get blood tests for TB and stand against its spread.