How did the TB drug affect you?
It is true that today in this country far fewer people fall ill with the bacterial infection than at the time it was discovered. As part of the "End-TB" strategy of the World Health Organization, the number of cases in so-called low-incidence countries such as Germany is to fall below 1 case per 100,000 inhabitants by 2035. However, Germany is still a long way from this, as figures from the RKI show: According to preliminary data, there were 5.8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019. 4,791 diseases were reported to the RKI for 2019 (reference date: March 1st, 2020).
This is an important step: In 2018 the statistics showed 6.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. However, the task remains demanding. In order to achieve the goal of the World Health Organization, the number of cases in this country must also drop by at least 10 percent every year. However, increasing mobility through professional and private travel, migration and refugee movements favor the spread of the tuberculosis pathogen. This one itself also has it all. The increasing development of resistance and the co-epidemic of tuberculosis and HIV / AIDS make it difficult to contain and control the infection.
Tuberculosis in Germany - the number of cases
Since 2012, with 4,239 tuberculosis cases, the number of diseases in this country has increased again. In 2015 5,964 illnesses were registered, in 2016 there were 6,114 cases, and in 2017 the number of illnesses fell slightly for the first time to 5,641. In 2018, the RKI recorded a total of 5,554 cases and for 2019 a total of 4,873 cases.
Insidious pathogens make it difficult for researchers
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease. It is triggered by rod-shaped bacteria from the mycobacteria family. These are at home all over the world. Mycobacteria grow particularly slowly, tuberculosis bacteria only divide about once a day. For comparison: intestinal bacteria divide every ten minutes. That is why the disease is usually insidious and develops slowly over many weeks. The slow growth of the tuberculosis pathogens also affects the therapy: in order to really kill all bacteria, patients have to take a combination of different drugs for several months. Tuberculosis pathogens can lie dormant in the body for many years without leading to disease. In people with a weakened immune system - for example through immunosuppressive therapies (e.g. for HIV) in old age or through diseases of the immune system - tuberculosis can break out even years later.
Tuberculosis costs money and lives
Tuberculosis (TB) kills almost 1.5 million people worldwide. This makes the infection one of the ten most common causes of death worldwide. Scientists assume that a quarter of mankind is infected with tuberculosis bacteria and can thus pass the disease on. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that ten million people worldwide will be diagnosed with TB in 2018. Almost half of those affected are already struggling with multi-resistant pathogens in which the most important drugs are no longer effective. In Germany alone, the number of such multi-resistant TB infections is increasing by 20 percent every year. In order to effectively suppress tuberculosis worldwide in the future, new strategies against multi-resistance are required. Experts are also calling for more research into effective vaccination with few side effects. According to the WHO, a total of 1.2 trillion US dollars are missing for this every year.
Robert Koch and tuberculosis
The doctor Robert Koch discovered that tuberculosis is a bacterial infection in March 1882. The disease had developed into a widespread disease in the course of the 19th century. Harsh living conditions weakened people's immune defenses, sick people lived in a confined space with healthy people - so the tuberculosis bacteria had an easy time of it. About a seventh of the population in the German Reich died of the lung infection. However, it was not until the 1950s that effective therapies became available. The tuberculin (a mixture of components from killed tuberculosis pathogens) developed by Koch as a cure turned out to be ineffective. However, Koch succeeded in discovering an effective diagnostic agent in tuberculin. Nowadays, medical professionals are still using tuberculin, along with newer methods, to diagnose tuberculosis infection. For his discovery of the tuberculosis bacteria, Robert Koch received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1905.
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