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Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It mainly affects the lungs and is contracted from other people who are infected with this bacteria. The method of contraction is usually via droplets that are inhaled from sneezes or coughs from the infected person. It is a very serious condition but can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Pulmonary (lung) tuberculosis is most common, but it can affect any part of the body including the lymph nodes, nerves and bones. Once the bacteria has been contracted, you can become actively infected within a few weeks or you can have ‘latent’ inactive TB for years and then become active. The reason for people becoming active after being latent for so long is usually due to a weakened immune system (e.g. HIV infection, chemotherapy, organ transplant medication). An X-ray can usually reveal whether TB is present, even in healed TB (scarring and calcium visible). Vaccination has resulted in a huge reduction in the number of TB cases in the developed world, however, it still remains a problem globally in developing countries such as Africa and India.
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