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Tuberculosis, Its Description and Epidemiology

Description of the Communicable Disease

Tuberculosis (abbreviated as TB) is one of the common communicable diseases in different parts of the world. This disease “affects the human lungs and is characterized by the growth of tubercles” (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013, p. 12). The cause of this communicable disease is a bacterium given the name Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Allender et al., 2013). Some people might become infected and fail to exhibit the symptoms associated with the condition. This kind of illness is known as inactive TB (Arshad et al., 2014). Some conditions are classified as risk factors for the condition. These include malnutrition, radiotherapy, pregnancy, steroid use, diabetes, and opportunist diseases such as HIV/Aids (Arshad et al., 2014).

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The major symptoms of tuberculosis have been observed to develop gradually before the situation worsens. Although TB infects the human lungs, it can affect other organs such as the kidney, joints, and lymph nodes. The common symptoms associated with the disease include loss of appetite, chest pain, chills, fever, weight loss, cough, fatigue, fever, and night sweats (Allender et al., 2013). Additional symptoms are common in advanced conditions such as “swollen glands and pain during urination” (Allender et al., 2013, p. 28). Since tuberculosis is a communicable disease, people can spread the bacterium to others when they sneeze or cough. Individuals living with TB patients will have increased chances of being infected.

Untreated tuberculosis can result in various complications such as kidney failure, back pain, pleurisy, and spinal pain (Arshad et al., 2014). Infected people can be treated using strong antibiotics for 4 to 12 months depending on the stage of the disease. Some of the widely used antibiotics include ethambutol, isoniazid, and pyrazinamide (Allender et al., 2013). Drug-resistant TB should be treated for over 18 months. Vaccination is needed to minimize infections.

Current statistics explain why the condition should be taken seriously. In terms of prevalence, the disease affects around 38 percent of the global population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 10.4 million people are infected by the disease annually (World Health Organization, 2017). Men appear to be affected the most by the condition. Over 480,000 multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases are recorded annually (World Health Organization, 2017). The disease has also been observed to claim the lives of 1.4 million people annually. Fortunately, the measures and treatment strategies implemented in different parts of the world have saved over 50 million lives from the year 2000 to 2015 (World Health Organization, 2017).

Determinants of Health

The term “determinants of health” refers to the major factors that dictate the health status of an individual or a given population (Arshad et al., 2014). Some of these determinants include social factors, economic statuses, environmental forces, and personal attributes. Cultural practices, religious beliefs, education attainment, income levels, and gender determine people’s wellbeing (Long, Qu, & Lucas, 2016). A proper understanding of these determinants can make it easier for healthcare professionals to implement powerful strategies that can deal with the major diseases affecting their clients.

These factors contribute a lot to the progression of this communicable disease. To begin with, there are social attributes that explain why the condition continues to claim the lives of many people across the world. The social environment is a risk factor for the disease. This is the case because overcrowded working environments, poorly ventilated homes, and congested public transport systems increase the chances of getting this communicable disease (Long et al., 2016). Poverty increased levels of malnutrition, and hunger in different communities explains why many people are susceptible to the disease (Allender et al., 2013). Education attainment dictates how different individuals protect themselves from the disease.

The high levels of global immigration and mobility have led to increased cases of MDR-TB (Long et al., 2016). The current rates of population growth and urbanization contribute a lot to the development of the condition. The existing disparities in communities affect how public resources are allocated to deal with the condition. Social stratification is “responsible for the behavioral and biological risk factors for tuberculosis” (Allender et al., 2013, p. 67). Lack of financial support due to poor economic statuses and incomes contributes to this problem. This is the case because many patients fail to seek medication.

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The Epidemiologic Triangle

The epidemiologic triangle can be used to study the issues surrounding this disease. To begin with, the agent that causes the disease is a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacterium is capable of surviving in moist air. The bacterium can be transmitted from one person to another through coughing or sneezing. This microbe is usually “fast aerobic and reproduces slowly” (Long et al., 2016, p. 5). It is hypersensitive to different conditions such as radiations and increased temperatures. The microbe is capable of affecting the lungs, kidneys, and reproductive organs (Arshad et al., 2014).

The second element of the triangle is the host. The host of the bacterium is a human being (Allender et al., 2013). The bacterium can be transmitted from one individual to another. The transmission occurs when people sneeze or talk. The presence of specific agent factors such as opportunistic diseases can increase the chances of developing the disease. People who have diabetes and cancer are also at risk. Early detection and preventions are powerful measures used to deal with the condition. The third element is the external environment. This element is characterized by aspects such as living conditions and risk factors (Arshad et al., 2014). Individuals living in crowded houses or prison systems can have increased chances of developing diseases. Countries that have high TB prevalence rates pose a huge risk to more people.

The Role of the Community Health Nurse

The community health nurse should take up various roles to identify and support more people who are affected by this illness. The first obligation of the community health nurse is case finding. This is a powerful strategy that guides human services professionals and nurses to identify the right resources and use them adequately to support the needs of individuals who are affected by a specific disease (Arshad et al., 2014). The nurses will identify individuals who are at risk or affected by tuberculosis (Long et al., 2016). The nurse will go further to report the recorded information to the right agencies and professionals. The individuals or community members can be guided to be part of the case-finding strategy.

Data from the population is gathered, recorded, and analyzed by the nurse. The analysis will make it easier for the nurse to monitor different indicators such as disease prevalence, risk factors, and implications on the targeted population. This analysis will ensure the right resources and support systems are designed in order to meet the needs of the targeted community members. The next step is known as a follow-up. After identifying the population and collecting the required information, the community health nurse will engage in follow-up (Allender et al., 2013). This approach will ensure the changing needs of the community are identified. Adequate resources will be identified and presented in order to improve the population’s health. A competent health nurse will, therefore, be on the frontline to transform the wellbeing of the targeted population.

National Agency Dealing with Tuberculosis

The National Tuberculosis Controllers Association (NTCA) is one of the agencies that seek to deal with this disease. The agency’s vision is to have “a world that is free of tuberculosis” (National Tuberculosis Controllers Association, 2017, para. 1). The agencies have been focusing on the best practices that have the potential to reduce the major risk factors for this disease. This is achieved by developing new strategies to ensure the targeted mission is realized. The organization has been counseling different committees and agencies in order to implement powerful strategies that can deal with this condition.

The national organization works with community members, local governments, and state agencies in order to promote the tuberculosis agenda. The agency presents adequate resources that can be used to deal with tuberculosis. The agency has been advocating for new laws, policies, and positions that can promote the management and control of this disease (National Tuberculosis Controllers Association, 2017). Positive results have been recorded within the past few years because NTCA focuses on sustainable methods to eliminate TB in every state (Long et al., 2016). This discussion shows conclusively that the organization has been on the frontline to implement powerful measures that have the potential to reduce the impact of tuberculosis in the United States.


Allender, J., Rector, C., & Warner, K. (2013). Community and public health nursing: Promoting the public’s health. New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Health

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Arshad, A., Salam, R., Lassi, Z., Das, J., Naqvi, I., & Bhutta, Z. (2014). Community based interventions for the prevention and control of tuberculosis. Infectious Diseases of Poverty, 3(27), 1-17. Web.

Long, Q., Qu, Y., & Lucas, H. (2016). Drug-resistant tuberculosis control in China: Progress and challenges. Infectious Diseases of Poverty, 5(9), 1-7.

National Tuberculosis Controllers Association. (2017). NTCA. Web.

World Health Organization. (2017). Tuberculosis (TB). Web.

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