Tuberculosis is caused by infection with germs called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These bacteria were first identified in 1882 by Robert Koch who described their appearance under the microscope as rod-shaped germs or bacilli. Tuberculosis can also afflict cattle, where the infection is caused by a similar type of bacterium called Mycobacterium bovis. It is believed that tuberculosis in humans has been around since cattle were domesticated around 10,000 years ago.TB germs from cattle can be transmitted to humans through drinking heavily infected milk. This is now rare as Western farmers have virtually eliminated the disease from thier herds and pasteurization eliminates any residual bacilli.
All cases of TB are passed from person to person via droplets. When someone with TB infection coughs, sneezes, or talks, tiny droplets of saliva or mucus are expelled into the air, which can be inhaled by another person.
Once infectious particles reach the alveoli (small saclike structures in the air spaces in the lungs), another cell, called the macrophage, engulfs the TB bacteria.
Since TB can be easily spread within a population, especially when confined in close quarters, it is closely watched by the Center for Disease Control. TB is a disease that must be reported to the CDC by State Health Departments, along with information about the infected person, such as race, ethnicity, and treatment. Overall, TB incidence in the US decreased in 2009, the last year reported. In 2009, the rate of TB was higher in foreign-born persons, particularly those from Mexico, the Philippines, India, and Vietnam. Incidence of TB, as well as negative effects of the disease, are also higher in persons who are HIV positive, due to the immuno-suppressive effects of HIV.
Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is an infectious disease that causes small rounded swellings tubercles to form on mucous membranes, especially a disease pulmonary tuberculosis that affects the lungs.
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