TB or Not TB? Addressing the Tuberculosis Question

TB or Not TB? Addressing the Tuberculosis Question
Last week I had my annual colonoscopy. I had some mild inflammation, but my condition has remained stable since last year. My husband told me that as soon as I woke up, I asked the nurse, “Can I go to work now?” I don’t know what job I thought I was going to considering I work from home. Thankfully, my husband took the day off. Otherwise, I might have driven to my old teaching job 40 miles away. With my colonoscopy out of the way, I have one more test this month: my annual tuberculosis (TB) test. When I first started Remicade (infliximab), I was told I would need to be tested for TB because the medication would lower my immunity. I hadn't fully understood the link to TB, so I decided to learn more about it. TB is an infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which mainly affects the lungs. However, the infection can spread through the bloodstream and lead to complications involving the heart, liver, kidneys, and brain. It can also cause spinal pain and joint damage. TB is a communicable disease that’s often spread between people who work or live closely together. A person also can be infected with TB without displaying symptoms or being contagious. For this reason, doctors distinguish between latent TB and active TB. With latent TB, the body’s immune system prevents it from becoming active. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 9,029 new TB cases in the U.S. in 2018, with almost 70 percent occurring in people born outside the U.S. The bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine is available, but it’s generally given to infants born in countries where TB is prevalent and is not widely used in the U.S. In addition to living in or traveling to high-risk countries, other risk factors for the dise
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