Tuberculosis ,the return of a menace

By now,
the entire nation is aware that 17,000 cases of tuberculosis had
been reported in 2009. Tuberculosis is an airborne bacterial
infection, a disease that has been around for centuries. Therefore
it is possible for anyone to contract tuberculosis, especially in
cramped environments. It used to be confined to low socio economic
groups by virtue of their unhealthy living conditions. A family of
five can live within the confines of a room. Such a situation
perpetuates the transmission of tuberculosis, which fortunately is
not very efficient. In Kuala Lumpur, high rise dense apartment
blocks appear to be the flavour of the day, as it is usually more
affordable to most middle income earners. As families live closer
to each other, the possibilities of transmitting tuberculosis will
inadvertently rise. So does the BCG vaccination offer any
protection? It does but not 100%. When an individual is exposed to
sufficient bacteria, then he or she can develop tuberculosis. One
of the main reasons for a rise in TB cases is likely to be due to
immigration of foreigners, both legal and illegal. A physician in
any hospitals will testify to the fact that many of their patients
happen to be foreigners, some whom had only arrived days before. So
what happened to our screening measures? Did this measure fail or
were they knowingly allowed in without a proper health check? Many
doctors are pressured into passing these workers, as their rice
bowls depend on these large corporations remaining on their list of
panel companies. Many decades ago, Malaysians were used to the
advice of “Jangan meludah merata-rata”. Since those days, we hardly
ever see these signages. And rightly so, considering the assumption
that we have advanced closer to being a developed nation.
Unfortunately, individuals spitting in public appear rampant. I
guess we should reeducate our population on how to behave sensibly
in public. This is paramount if we are to stop the spread of many
airborne infections like tuberculosis. Sadly, the number of cases
of tuberculosis continues to escalate. With the emergence of Multi
Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, and the limited armamentarium of
drugs, we appear to be heading back to the age of the bubonic
plague, where many will end up dead and all we can do is watch
haplessly.

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