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Feb 20, 2014

Healthy Living looks at tuberculosis

Tuberculosis, or TB, as it is commonly known, is a fatal infectious disease that attacks the lungs.  It is an airborne disease when people who have an active TB infection cough or sneeze.  Tonight, Healthy Living looks at the symptoms and treatment, as well as precautions to avoid the infection.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Tuberculosis remains a global health problem. While the statistics have improved over the past decade, there are still millions of persons worldwide who develop this disease.


Jorge Hidalgo

Dr. Jorge Hidalgo, Internist/Adult Intensivist

“Tuberculosis is not a new disease; it is very old. Obviously in the last years, the incidents of tuberculosis have increased not only in Belize, but around the world. It can be transmitted human to human through inhalation. And basically when someone is infected with tuberculosis, the person is coughing, sneezing, even singing; they can basically send small droplets of tuberculosis and people who are around can inhale that and become infected.”


Tuberculosis can affect any part of the body; but it most commonly affects the lungs. In fact TB is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat and lungs of people with the disease.


Dr. Jorge Hidalgo

“Everybody is at risk essentially, but obviously you have the group of ris kthat are those patients that are in the extreme of age—the newborns, the younger people; the elderly patients. The other group at risk is the patients with AIDS.  Also people that are getting chemotherapy because of a cancer. Majority of the time patients will present with night sweats, coughing and they start losing weight as general symptoms. Sometimes the situation can get that bad that the patient can start with a severe shortness of breath and they need to be transported to the hospital.”


Treatment for TB is available free of cost at the Public chest clinics countrywide.

Dr. Jorge Hidalgo

“The treatment can be between more or less 6 months to a year and it is basically combined with three to four different kind of medication. The importance is that patients need to come to the clinic very often especially in the beginning because obviously all the medication have side effects and we need to monitor the developing or not side effects related with the drugs.”


Recently following countrywide tests on cattle, bovine tuberculosis was detected in one herd in Cayo. Bovine tuberculosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted through DIRECT contact between infected animals and humans.

Dr. Jorge Hidalgo

“A very small percentage of population can become infected with the micro-bacteria, Bovis. And this is very interesting because what is happening right now and you hear people now have the tendency to say, oh I want to consume organic products. And then with this idea, they say we prefer to probably have raw milk instead of pasteurized milk as an organic way to do things. The raw milk can be bad for you in general—not only for tuberculosis—but can make you prone to develop and to contract many other bacteria. Most commonly if you are consuming raw milk or unpasteurized products, you are going to develop gastroenteritis.”


The Ministry of Health via Public Health Department and Animal Health Departments within the Belize Agricultural Health Authority are working jointly to monitor the situation. In the meantime, Dr. Hidalgo’s advice is to steer away from unpasteurized products.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Healthy Living looks at tuberculosis”

  1. PGGIAL says:

    I think if they’re talking about TB they should’ve touched on the differences between TB infection and TB disease (active TB). TB infection is very common but only about 5% go on to develop active disease. With abuse of antibiotics, there’s an increase in multi drug resistant TB. A lot of countries have started to do directly observed therapy (DOT) where someone actually watches the patient take their medication and this is to ensure that the medication is taken the right way as well as to monitor for side effects. Apart from the groups mentioned that are at higher risk for infection and progression to disease, people who take immunosupressive medication such as humira and embrel are also at risk.

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