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Tuberculosis and COVID -19

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Tuberculosis and COVID -19

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Tuberculosis is a respiratory disease. Read this article to know more about the relationship between tuberculosis and COVID-19.

Written by

Dr. Lochana .k

Medically reviewed by

Dr. N. Ashok Viswanath

Published At February 17, 2022
Reviewed AtNovember 7, 2022

What Is COVID-19?

The name of this virus has been the most pronounced in our own houses and hospitals since December 2019. This virus is a deadly one shattering the lives of many. Though no permanent cure for COVID is available right now, COVID vaccines are the biggest relief to break the chain and eradicate the virus from the planet. It is our responsibility to stay careful during this pandemic situation. If you are an older adult or suffering from any other illness, you should be more careful than others. Since COVID-19 produces some respiratory symptoms, it is suspected to be associated with other respiratory illnesses such as tuberculosis. The most challenging part is the diagnosis, as they share similar symptoms.

What Is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease. It is known to affect the respiratory system. The transmission of this disease occurs through the exposure of respiratory droplets expelled by the patient during coughing, sneezing, and sharing of food plates and glasses with others. Kissing can also lead to the transmission of tuberculosis from an infected person to another person due to the exchange of saliva. In most cases, the patients do not experience any symptoms. When the symptoms begin to appear, they might present with the symptoms such as weight loss, night sweats, fever, and extreme cold. Patients who are having multiple symptoms might require an antibiotic treatment that prolongs for a long duration. There are four stages of tuberculosis, and the time taken for all four stages to occur would be only one month. Only patients who have an active infection are considered to be contagious. Not all patients with tuberculosis can spread the infection to others. However, considering the pandemic situation, completely avoiding a person who is having respiratory symptoms is the right choice.

What Are the Risk Factors?

There is no evidence to show that patients suffering from tuberculosis will have a high mortality rate with COVID-19. But, if the patient is suffering from both tuberculosis and COVID-19, then the patients are known to respond poorly to the treatments. If the patients who are already having tuberculosis stop the medication for its treatment, then the year prognosis rate for COVID-19 will gradually decrease. Risk factors for COVID-19 are obstructive pulmonary lung disease, diabetes, and old age.

What Are the Similarities Between Tuberculosis and COVID-19?

Both tuberculosis and COVID-19 share similar routes of transmission. In tuberculosis, the bacteria that is suspended in the air remains in the form of droplet nuclei for several hours. In COVID-19, transmission occurs mainly through the respiratory droplets expelled by the affected patient.

What Is the Influence of COVID-19 on Tuberculosis?

According to the reports of the World Health Organization, the mortality rates in tuberculosis patients are expected to increase by 13%. In the studies that were carried out in 2020, study results show that approximately 1.4 million people died from tuberculosis. Since the value is relatively high, additional care and concern should be provided by the medical team to the tuberculosis patients.

What Are the Prevention Measures?

A proper healthcare implementation measure should be followed in all the countries in order to restrict the transmission of tuberculosis and COVID-19. It should happen both in social settings and hospitals. The protection measures should involve personal protection, environmental protection, and also efforts at the administrative levels such as public laws to minimize the virus’ spread. Hospital management experts should formulate better plans to prevent the spread of infections. The general things to be followed are:

  • Use ideal hand-washing techniques. It is good to wash your hands with soap and water.

  • Maintain a particular distance from others. Social functions and gatherings should be completely avoided.

  • If kids are present in the house, teach them proper hygiene measures. Tell them to stay away from the infected people and the elderly.

  • Wear mouth masks and gloves for safety measures. It is necessary to change these masks and gloves after usage.

  • Proper isolation techniques should be followed according to the government norms.

  • Social distancing is a universal healthy measure.

  • If a hand-washing protocol is difficult to be followed in the hospital setup, then hand sanitizers can be used as an alternative method.

  • Hospital is the place with the highest risk of infection. If there is any necessity to visit a doctor regarding tuberculosis or any other conditions, you can try virtual consultations on any online platform like icliniq.

  • Do not forget to get your vaccination doses for COVID. Get vaccinated completely for COVID with the available COVID vaccine at your place immediately.

What Are the Diagnostic Methods?

The diagnostic methods for COVID-19 are different from those diagnostic methods that are followed for tuberculosis. But, if any respiratory symptoms are noticed in the patient, then he must be tested for both COVID-19 and tuberculosis. To identify tuberculosis, a chest X-ray and sputum examination are carried out. If the test results for the chest X-ray are positive, then the sputum culture is performed. The diagnostic tests for COVID-19 include nucleic acid amplification tests (such as the polymerase chain reaction and rapid antigen-based tests). It is necessary for a few patients to get tested for both tuberculosis and COVID-19. The indications for both the diagnostic tests are:

  • Presence of clinical features of both conditions.

  • Exposure to both tuberculosis and COVID-19.

  • Presence of risk factors for both conditions.

What Are the Treatment Options for Tuberculosis?

Treatment options would be the same for all tuberculosis patients until and unless they are influenced by a coronavirus. Multifactorial management therapy would be required for patients who are suffering. It is the responsibility of medical care to provide ventilation facilities for tuberculosis and COVID patients.

Vaccination Protocol

The vaccination for tuberculosis, BCG - bacillus Calmette-Guerin, is definitely not going to be the solution for COVID-19. COVID vaccinations such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Covaxin, Covishield, Sputnik, etc., developed in such a short span, are surely the solution to save humankind from the deadly virus. It is our responsibility to stay safe. Negligence is the main cause of excessive spread rates. Self-isolation in tuberculosis patients can restrict the spread of infection. Follow the hygiene and safety protocols.

For further consultation and queries, call a doctor online.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Is It Possible to Develop Tuberculosis as a Result of COVID?

Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can develop tuberculosis but can present as comorbidities. Tuberculosis (TB) and covid-19 share common symptoms and can occur simultaneously, resulting in poor outcomes. Tuberculosis can increase the risk and severity of Cobid-19 disease.

2.

Who Is More Prone to Develop Tuberculosis?

Individuals prone to develop tuberculosis are divided into two categories:
- The individuals who have been lately infected with TB bacteria.
1.Close contact with an infected person.
2.Persons who have immigrated from areas with high rates of TB.
3.Children below five years of age who have a TB test positive.
4.High rates of TB transmission groups such as homeless people, injection drug users, and HIV-infected individuals.
5.Persons who work or reside with high-risk TB people in institutions or facilities such as hospitals, homeless shelters, nursing homes, etc.
- Medical conditions that compromise the immune system. 
1.HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection.
2.Substance abuse.
3.Diabetes mellitus.
4.Low body weight.
5.Silicosis.
6.Head and neck cancer.
7.Organ transplant.
8.Severe kidney disease.
9.Medical treatment such as corticosteroids.

3.

Does a Tuberculosis Patient Need Isolation?

Yes, a tuberculosis-infected person is kept in isolation to prevent the infection from spreading to healthy family members, public health groups, and staff. The minimum duration of the isolation is until the sputum tests are bacteriologically negative and have shown improvement in clinical features such as cough, fever, resolving lung infiltrates, etc.

4.

What Is the Isolation Period for Tuberculosis Patients?

The isolation period for tuberculosis patients is based on all isolation orders set forth the name of the person to be isolated and the initial period of not more than six months, during which the order remains effective, the place of isolation, and such other conditions to protect public health. Generally, the isolation is based on the order issued by the health officer in writing.

5.

Is It Possible to Develop Tuberculosis Even After Vaccination?

Yes, it is possible to get tuberculosis infection even after the BCG vaccine, as the vaccine is not effective in protecting adults. A TB test is performed to see if it is a latent infection or TB disease.

6.

Can a Person With Tuberculosis Receive COVID Vaccination?

Yes, a person with tuberculosis can receive their COVID-19 vaccination by consulting the healthcare provider. COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for emergency use by the WHO (World Health Organization) to be safe and effective in most people, including those with tuberculosis. In some cases, the routine medication schedule needs to be adjusted.

7.

Is It Safe to Live With a Tuberculosis-Infected Person?

Living with a tuberculosis-infected person can be safe when proper precautions are taken to prevent the disease from spreading. TB is primarily spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing the bacteria into the air. Recommended infection control practices reduce the risk of transmission.

8.

Is Tuberculosis Fatal?

Tuberculosis can be serious and life-threatening if not treated appropriately. It commonly affects the lungs and leads to persistent cough, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. It can also affect the brain and other body parts. People undergoing treatment for tuberculosis may have lower life expectancy with latent TB infection.

9.

What Is the Treatment of Tuberculosis?

Treatment for TB  is recommended in 4, 6, or 9 months regimen, which includes
* 4-month Rifapentine- Moxifloxacin TB treatment regimen.
1.High dose Rifapentine with Moxifloxacin, Isoniazid, and Pyrazinamide.
 
* 6 or 9-month RIPE TB regimen, including treatment of drug-susceptible tuberculosis. 
1.Rifampin
2.Isoniazid.
3.Pyrazinamide.
4.Ethambutol. 

10.

What Is the Course of Action if One Tested Positive for Tuberculosis?

When a person tests positive for a tuberculosis blood test or skin test, the doctor or healthcare provider will ask to perform other tests to confirm the diagnosis. The tests include a chest X-ray or sputum test to ensure if it is latent TB or active TB disease.

11.

What Are the Criteria for a Tuberculosis Patient to Be Discharged From the Hospital and Return Home?

Criteria for discharge include
- The patient has started with a multiple-drug regimen and has taken at least one tolerated dose of medicine.
- The patient is medically stable.
- The patient has had three consecutive sputum AFB smear tests, including one early or induced sputum sample collected at least eight hours apart.
- A follow-up plan has been established, and discharge approval has been obtained by the TB control program.
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Dr. N. Ashok Viswanath
Dr. N. Ashok Viswanath

Infectious Diseases

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