Tuberculosis: Myths and facts
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease, caused by a bacterium called mycobacterium
tuberculosis. It spreads through the air. Dr Vasundhara Atre debunks some myths
associated with it.
Myth: Tuberculosis is hereditary
Fact: Tuberculosis is not hereditary. The tuberculosis bacteria are carried as
droplets in the air and enter the body through the airways. The spread occurs when
those having active,untreated infection in the lungs,cough, sneeze or speak, and
send the germs into the air, those around breathing in the air get infected.
Myth: Smoking causes tuberculosis
Fact: The cause of the infection is the mycobacterium tuberculosis. Smoking can
Myth: BCG vaccination protects against developing TB.
Fact: While the vaccine prevents the severe forms of TB in childhood, it does not
protect adults from developing the adult forms of pulmonary TB.
Myth: Tuberculosis affects only the lungs.
Fact: Tuberculosis primarily affects the lungs (80 percent) however other parts of
the body that can be affected include the genitor urinary tract,heart
(pericardium),brain,bones, lymph nodes,gastro intestinal tract,joints,skin almost
all parts except the nails and hair.
Myth: An individual who has been infected with the mycobacterium tuberculosis will
Fact: A tuberculosis infection does not always develop into tuberculosis
disease.It is estimated that only about 10 percent of infected people develop
tuberculosis sometime in their lives.
Myth: A positive tuberculosis test means that an individual has tuberculosis.
Fact: A positive Mantoux/ PPD tuberculosis skin test is only an indication that
there is an infection with a strain of the Mycobacterium. It is not a confirmation
that the disease is present.The positive TB skin test is only a confirmation of
exposure, to tuberculosis.
Myth: Individuals suffering from tuberculosis should be hospitalised.
Fact: Most patients suffering from tuberculosis can be treated at home and they
can continue to work.