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Tuberculosis, Its Causes and Symptoms

Regardless of extra efforts made to avoid TB, the disease has remained a primary public health concern across the world. Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne disease and is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. This disease is infectious and mainly affects the human lungs. The bacterium causing TB spreads from one individual to another through tiny particles released into the air via sneezes and coughs. This paper will explore Tuberculosis as a communicable disease.

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Causes of TB

TB is one of the infectious diseases caused by bacteria belonging to the group Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In a few cases, the disease is caused by M. Pinnipedii, M.microti, M.caprae, M. Canetti, and M. Africanum (Glaziou, Floyd, & Raviglione, 2018). M. Bovis is also one of the causes of TB in humans but its significance reduced. In the year 2016, M. Bovis was responsible for about 1.4 % of cases only. After exposure to an infectious person, TB is an uncommon result of host-bacilli interaction in the newly infected person (Glaziou et al., 2018). In specific, the most probable result is a subclinical, asymptomatic infection.

Transmission Mode

TB is an airborne disease and is spread when individuals with pulmonary TB expel aerosolized bacteria particularly when sneezing, shouting, or coughing. Relying on the surrounding, these tiny particles might remain suspended in the air for many hours (Glaziou et al., 2018). A person gets infected after inhaling the particles containing Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In some cases, although uncommon today, transmissions have been reported to occur through the ingestion of contaminated milk (Glaziou et al., 2018). The average risk of acquisition of TB relies on the occurrence of infectious pulmonary TB within the population.


Tuberculosis symptoms rely on where in the body the bacterium is growing. However, the bacteria for the disease, mainly pulmonary TB normally grows in the lungs (Glaziou et al., 2018). In the lungs, the disease causes symptoms such as pain in the chest, a bad cough that lasts three weeks or more (World Health Organization, 2017). Additionally, the patient might experience coughing up sputum or blood. Some other symptoms might include weight loss, weakness or fatigue, lack of appetite, sweating at night, fever, and chills.

Demographic and Environmental Setting

Demographic and environment settings contribute to the occurrence of TB. According to Rizvi, Tarafder, Kamal & Anwar (2019) noted that genetic diversity, environmental factors, host factors, and phylogeographic distribution of Mycobacterium tuberculosis contribute to regional variances in TB occurrences and drug resistance. Additionally, according to Ane-Anyangwe (2016), 76 % of the global population lives under poor circumstances with low salaries accounting for about 90 % of cases and deaths for TB. In some instances, TB is regarded as the disease that mostly affects poor individuals.


Tuberculosis does not infect all people; in most cases, individuals having contact with those known or suspected to be affected by TB are the ones at risk. Others might get infected when traveling to nations where TB is common (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019). Infants, children, and youths exposed to TB patients are also at risk of acquiring TB. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2019), populations that might have high cases include homeless, medical underprivileged, low salaried, and drug addict communities. Children under the age of five are at more risk before and after infection since their immunity is not strong. HIV infected persons is also an important risk factor for developing TB in the world.


TB occurs across the globe and affects people of all ages and gender. World Health Organization (2017) noted that most of the approximated number of cases in 2016 occurred in the South-East regions representing 45%. In Africa, cases are estimated at 25%, 17% in the Western Pacific region, 7% in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and 3% in the American region (World Health organization, 2017). The yearly number of cases relative to the size of the population differ broadly among nations. For instance, in the year 2016 alone, the number was from under ten per a hundred thousand population in most high-income nations and five one hundred and fifty to three hundred in TB burden nations.

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TB is one of the most dangerous communicable diseases. According to Ane-Anyangwe et al. (2016), TB is the leading cause of death and 95% of TB incidents, as well as 98% of deaths happen in developing nations. However, the TB mortality rate has been noted to be decreasing every year. Based on the World Health Organization (2017) data, the mortality rate is reducing at about 3% every year, while the incidence of the disease is falling at a rate of 2% every year. The percentage of people dying from the disease lies at 16% (World Health Organization, 2017). Millions of individuals are diagnosed with TB but attain successful medication every year, averting millions of deaths (fifty-three million deaths between 2000 and 2016). Worldwide, the mortality rate of the disease per one hundred thousand reduced by 37% between the year 2000 and 2016 (Ane-Anyangwe et al., 2016). Although the mortality rate is decreasing over the years, the rate is slow, calling for the need to initiate more interventions of preventing TB spread.

Health Determinants Based on Healthy People 2020

There are many determinants of health affecting different diseases. According to Healthy People 2020, some factors make some people healthy and others unhealthy. However, the goal of every government is to make every member of society live long as well as have a healthy life. The primary determinants of health include biology and genetics, individual behavior, health services, social factors, and policymaking. Regarding biological and genetic factors, diseases affect some populations more than others. In this case, older individuals and children under the age of five are more prone to TB. Individuals’ behavior plays a role in the health condition of a person. For instance, in this case, when an individual avoids interacting with infected persons, their risk of developing TB is highly reduced.

Health services consist of medical services and how they might impact the health of a person. Healthy People 2020 (2020) noted that lack of or limited access to medical services highly affects the health status of a person. TB is a curable disease and can be prevented when diagnosed early. In this case, when people lack supportive services such as health insurance, they are less probable to involve in preventive care for TB or delay the treatment process. Social factors reflect both physical as well as social conditions of the environment of people. Accordingly, social factors determine public safety, transportation options to treatment units, exposure to information, and availability of resources among others. For policies, Health People 2020 (2020) consider how the government affects the health of an individual and the entire society. In many cases, taxes on commodities that make an individual weak such as drugs could be increased to improve the population’s health.

Role of Public Nurse

Public nurses cover every aspect of patient care from treating the infected people to helping them achieve targets for public health. The nurses work at ensuring the patients receive the treatment and care that is required. The public nurses have a high level of medical knowledge as well as skills that have been acquired through their work. These specialized nurses can take control of different aspects of patients’ care.


Ane-Anyangwe, I., Fru-Cho, J., Ndukum, J. A., Nota, A. D., Meriki, H. D., Nsongomanyi, F. R. F., & Titanji, V. P. (2016). Socio-demographic and environmental factors affecting the prevalence and spread of tuberculosis in the South West region of Cameroon. International Journal of Tropical Disease & Health, 18(1), 1-7. Web.

Glaziou, P., Floyd, K., & Raviglione, M. C. (2018). Global epidemiology of tuberculosis. Seminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 39(3), pp. 271-285. Web.

Healthy People 2020. Determinants of health. Web.

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Epidemiology of Tuberculosis. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web.

Rizvi, S. S., Tarafder, S., Kamal, S. M., Anwar, S., Johora, F. T., & Hossain, S. (2019). Socio-demographic characteristics and risk factors contributing to pulmonary tuberculosis infection and recent transmission. Journal of Tuberculosis Research, 7(4), 228-237.

World Health Organization. Global tuberculosis report 2017. World Health Organization. Web.

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