Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious and severe bacterial infection that usually involves the lungs, but may spread to other parts of the body such as the brain, kidneys, or the spine. It is usually treated with several different medications that fight the TB bacteria.
Sometimes the TB bacteria can become resistant to these drugs, and the drugs can no longer kill the bacteria. Drug resistance can occur from the improper use of the medication during treatment TB patients. This can happen if the medication is not
prescribed properly or when people with TB stop taking their medications before all of the bacteria are killed. Share the “ABC’s of Antibiotics” infographic with your patients.
Drug-resistant TB is spread in the same way as drug-susceptible (regular) TB. TB germs are spread in the air when a person with TB in their lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. If other people breathe in these bacteria, they could also become infected.
Treatment for drug-resistant TB is very expensive, may take up to 2 years to complete and can produce serious side effects including depression or psychosis, hearing loss, hepatitis, and kidney impairment. Drug-resistant TB may also be fatal; approximately 9 percent of patients die during treatment.
What you can do:
Patients with TB should be taught to cover their mouth and nose when coughing. Patients should take all the TB medicine exactly as prescribed by the physician.
Drug-resistant TB can be prevented when healthcare providers quickly identify cases, follow the recommended treatment guidelines, observe the patients’ response to treatment, and ensure that medications are taken and completed as ordered.
Providers should also make sure that infection control procedures are promptly implemented and correctly followed to prevent exposure to TB in healthcare settings where TB patients are likely to be seen.
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