Mycobacterium Tuberculosis is the bacterium that causes Tuberculosis, otherwise known as TB.
The bacteria usually gravitates towards the lungs, however, it can also attack every other aspect of your body including the spine, brain and kidney.
Not everyone who becomes infected with this bacteria will become sick. Thus, there are two conditions: latent TB infection and TB disease. If the condition is not treated correctly, the latter can become fatal.
How Does Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Spread?
TB bacteria is spread via the air from one person to another. Whenever a person who has TB coughs, sings or speaks, the bacteria is transmitted into the air.
Thus, people who are situated nearby will be at risk of inhaling the bacteria and becoming infected themselves.
Contrary to what many people believe, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis cannot be spread via the following means:
- Shaking someone’s hand.
- Touching bed linen.
- Touching toilet seats.
- Sharing a toothbrush.
- Sharing food or drink.
Whenever a person breathes in Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, this bacteria can settle within their lungs and grow. From here, it can progress throughout the body into other parts including the spine, kidney and brain.
TB that is situated within the lungs can become highly infectious, meaning that the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis bacteria is likely to spread to others.
Whereas, TB disease located in the spine, kidney or brain is not normally as infectious.
Those who have TB disease are likely to spread it to those they spend time with on a daily basis, including family members, coworkers, schoolmates and friends.
What Are The Risk Factors Associated With TB?
Some people can develop TB disease soon after they have become infected. This means that they can become infected prior to their immune system being able to fight the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis bacteria.
In other instances, people may become sick years later, whenever their immune system has weakened for an alternative reason.
Approximately 5-10% of those who become infected without treatment will develop TB disease at a later stage of their lives.
For those who have weaker immune systems due to conditions like HIV, the risk of developing the disease is far greater than for those who have normal regulated immune systems.
Typically, those who have a higher risk of developing the disease will fall into the following categories:
- Those who have been recently infected with the Mycobacterium Tuberculosis bacteria.
- Those who have preexisting medical conditions that weaken the overall immune system.
People Who Have Become Recently Infected With Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Bacteria
Those who have been recently infected with Mycobacterium Tuberculosis include the following:
- Those who have had close contact with people who have an infectious form of TB disease.
- Those who have immigrated from parts of the world with high rates of TB.
- Children who have tested positive for TB.
- Homeless people, drug users and those with HIV who have a higher rate of TB transmission.
- Those who work with those who are at higher risk of TB, including nurses and those who work in homeless shelters or correctional facilities.
Medical Conditions That Can Weaken The Immune System
Young children will often have far weaker immune systems. However, older people can also have weakened immune systems, especially if they suffer with any of the following conditions:
- Substance abuse.
- Kidney disease.
- Low body weight.
- Head or neck cancer.
- Crohn’s disease.
- Anyone who has had an organ transplant.
What To Do If You Have Been Exposed To Mycobacterium Tuberculosis?
If you have been exposed to TB bacteria, then you should contact your local health department or doctor in order to obtain a TB skin test or blood test.
Remember to tell them when you were last in contact with the infected person.
It is also important to note that those who have been exposed to TB bacteria will not be able to spread the infection straight away.
Thus, it is only those who have active disease that will be able to spread it to others. This is because Mycobacterium Tuberculosis needs to multiply within the body in order to cause active disease.
When active disease occurs, you could potentially spread the bacteria to others and this is most likely to occur when you are spending time with those you see on a regular basis like family members, friends or coworkers.
To conclude, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis is the form of bacteria that causes Tuberculosis (TB).
This form of bacteria tends to multiply within the lungs, leading to TB disease that can be fatal if it is not treated correctly.
Thus, if you believe that you have become infected, contact a medical professional immediately to obtain treatment.
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