A FIGHTING CHANCE AGAINST TB
At a time when SARS is so much in the news, it is salutary to remember that TB, too, is a dangerous infectious disease. It is killing more young people and adults than any other in the world, besides being the biggest killer of women. But it’s also been said that most people aren’t too worried when diagnosed with the disease — a sad reflection of the ignorance with which it is often regarded. For, unlike other infectious diseases, TB can be cured: it only has to be detected in time. Tuberculosis germs spread through the air, much like the common cold virus, when infected people cough or sneeze and the bacteria attack the body, usually the lungs.
With increasing HIV infection weakening the immune system and the development of drug-resistant TB strains, it’s not surprising that the disease has been on the rise of late in both developing and developed countries. TB has a chilling way of lying dormant, waiting for the right opportunity to strike so that many people play host to the bacteria, and are unaware of it because — thanks to the body’s defences—they don’t actually develop the disease. This makes life difficult not only for patients but for doctors who must look for bacterial needles in corporal haystacks. A crude ‘skin prick’ test that’s been in use for the last 100 years (and which often produces misleading results) has been the only real diagnostic tool available to the modern medicine man.
Until now, for happily, the war against TB may be won sooner than many would have thought if the efforts of an India-born British doctor, Ajit Lalwani, and his team bear fruit. They have reportedly developed an effective test that can spot cells in the blood produced by the immune system, unlike the old tuberculin skin test that depended on identifying antibodies in the blood (which made diagnosis a matter of chance). Using the new Eli spot test, doctors can now identify people with early dormant TB before they can infect others. Suddenly, eradicating this dreaded disease doesn’t seem so impossible after all.
2.1 Based on your reading of the above passage complete the following sentences.
(a) Why is TB considered as a dangerous disease?
(b) In what conditions TB can be cured?
(c) Many people play host to the TB bacteria but are unaware of it because…
(d) What is the reason that the disease has been on the rise of late?
(e) How is the new test going to be beneficial?
(f) What has been the only real diagnostic tool available to the modern medicine man?
(g) Why is it not surprising that the disease is on rising?
(h) How can doctors now identify people with early dormant?
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