How TB Jumps From Humans to Wildlife — Vet Seeks Clues

Scary thought – we blame animals for everything from SARs, which was mostly a non animal-to-human transmission possibility, bird-flu, which is still mostly a animal-to-human transmission possibility and confirmed Ebola. Even though most of it is through our own doing. Diseases transmitted from animals to people are called Zoonotics. Naturally, diseases transmitted from humans to animals are the human blight.

Photo: How TB Jumps From Humans to Wildlife — Vet Seeks Clues

A mongoose explores a trash can in Botswana. It’s well known that animal diseases can be transmitted to humans. But in Botswana several years ago, the first case was documented of a human disease, tuberculosis, emerging in free-ranging wildlife—in this case, the banded mongoose.

The animals may pick up the bacteria that cause tuberculosis by nosing around human waste. They investigate possible food sources in garbage piles, septic tanks, and sputum. Bacteria may enter tiny cuts on their noses, then spread through their bodies.

Photograph courtesy Matt Eich

Just so happens this came out today

TB cases on the rise here

Monday • March 23, 2009

TUBERCULOSIS, or TB, is rearing its ugly head once again, with the rate of new infections in Singapore last year rising for the first time in a decade, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday.

In an update ahead of World Tuberculosis Day tomorrow, the MOH said there were a total of 1,451 new cases of TB among Singapore residents last year, up from 1,256 in 2007. The incidence rate of 39.8 per 100,000 residents last year is higher than the 35.1 in 2007.

The rise in new cases is likely due to the increased reactivation of latent TB infection and increased transmission of the disease within the community, the MOH said. The older age groups and males account for a larger proportion of the new cases. Among these, nearly 60 per cent were aged 50 years and above, and over 70 per cent were males.

TB, caused by bacteria, usually attacks the lungs, but other parts of the body can also be affected, such as the brain, kidneys and bones. While it is potentially fatal if not treated properly, TB is curable and the spread of the disease is preventable, the MOH said.

Patients suffering from prolonged cough, fever, night sweats, unexplained loss of weight and appetite and tiredness — symptoms that suggest TB infection — should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

With early diagnosis and treatment, transmission of TB within the community can be curbed, the MOH said. Patients with TB must complete the full course of treatment over six to nine months to ensure they are fully cured.

The MOH warned that it would take enforcement action against those who persistently default treatment and thus pose a public health risk. It will ensure that these patients comply with treatment under the Infectious Diseases Act.

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