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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

4 Misconceptions by Filipinos about Tuberculosis

This image from shows a graphic representation of TB mode of infection.

Tuberculosis, more commonly known to Filipinos as TB, is a lethal, infectious disease. Tuberculosis is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis; an airborne type of bacteria which characteristically attacks the lungs, but may also affect and spread to other parts of the body. When someone with an active TB infection coughs, sneezes, shout, laugh or otherwise put out respiratory fluids through the air, which causes the bacteria to be suspended in the air. Most infections may not manifest any symptom at early stages and may be latent, but about one out of ten latent infection cases does eventually progresses to an active disease case.

Tuberculosis is ranked at number six leading cause of death in the Philippines, having 73 Filipinos dead each day.  It is essential to increase public’s awareness and proper knowledge to fight this deadly disease.

Here are most common misconceptions that Filipinos should be educated of:

1. TB is a disease only the poor and dirty can catch.

Anyone can acquire TB. People usually tend to unfairly and incorrectly associate this disease to people with low socioeconomic status and poor hygiene. Although there are certain risk factors for exposure, about anyone, whatever or whoever, can acquire TB. It is highly incorrect to judge a person to be a possible TB case, by basing on appearance and socioeconomic status.


2. My PPD test turned positive because of my BCG vaccination.

Having a history of BCG vaccination will cause a always cause a positive PPD test, is a one of the topmost misconception about TB, even to those who are in the medical field. This is untruthful.  BCG vaccines are used to protect people to certain types of TB forms and respectively it can cause false-positive result, but 10 years after the BCG vaccine has been administer, it has been scientifically proven this effect vanishes after 10 years.  Therefore it’s safe to say, that a positive result in an adult is not due to the BCG vaccine they got as a child.

3. Acquiring TB is easy.

Though it is true that TB is highly communicable, because of its easy transmission, it is essential to know that risk for transmission requires prolonged, continuous and close contact exposure to a TB case.  Understandably, those at utmost risk are household contacts or individuals who share the same crowded, small, poorly ventilated spaces with a TB case.  So therefore it can be concluded, that brief encounters, even if face to face, are unlikely to cause infection.

4. An individual with TB should separate their eating utensils from others.

This is highly incorrect. Tuberculosis bacteria typically attack the lungs, and spread its colonies there henceforth. It is not present in the mouth of a TB case as well as in the saliva this individual. Therefore, it is unnecessary to separate the eating utensils and other personal stuff of a known TB case.

These four misconceptions by Filipinos about TB are just a few among others. But with proper education and information by health professionals, for sure these TB misconceptions will be avoided.

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