TB cases in Ang Mo Kio: What you need to know about TB

MOH officials and grassroots leaders visit a resident at Block 203 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, where six individuals across four unrelated units were detected to have Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis.
MOH officials and grassroots leaders visit a resident at Block 203 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, where six individuals across four unrelated units were detected to have Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Q What is tuberculosis? A Tuberculosis, or TB, is a mycobacterial disease that usually affects the lungs.

It can also affect other parts of the body, including the brain, lymph nodes, kidneys, bones and joints.

It can be fatal if not treated properly, and the disease is a major cause of death and disability in many parts of the world.

Initial infection usually goes unnoticed as a condition known as latent TB infection (LTBI).

About a tenth of adults with healthy immune systems who have LTBI will eventually develop TB.

Q How is TB spread?

A The airborne disease is spread through fine respiratory droplets from an infected person.

Those who have TB are most likely to spread it to people with whom they have close and prolonged contact, such as family members, friends and co-workers.

One cannot contract TB from sharing eating utensils, food, cigarettes, or kissing or shaking hands.

Q How is TB treated?

A The disease is curable and treatment usually involves a combination of several drugs taken for six to nine months. More than 95 per cent of patients are cured if they take the prescribed medication. Multi- drug-resistant TB requires 20 to 24 months of treatment.

Q How prevalent is TB here?

A There were 1,498 new cases among Singapore citizens and permanent residents last year, bringing the incidence rate to 38.4 per 100,000 resident population. Singapore has the second-lowest incidence of TB in Asia, after Japan. Based on reported cases, it is more prevalent among older men.

SOURCE: MINISTRY OF HEALTH

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'Frequently asked questions about disease'. Print Edition | Subscribe